This page will be updated as the coronavirus situation develops.

12/01/2021

Please note: Our following response to the latest lockdown is still under review. Please visit this page in the coming weeks for further updates. Your safety and the safety of our staff is our priority.

On 5th January 2021, the Government announced a national lockdown. You must not leave, or be outside of your home except where necessary. Follow the new guidance to protect the NHS and save lives and get tested if you have symptoms.

We expect there to be an increased demand on our Contact Centre and you may experience some delays as a result. To reduce call times please consider contacting us using our online form or webchat instead of calling us or use our website to find the information you need. 

Six Town Housing are continuing to carry out the majority of repairs for tenants, but will need to review the situation on a daily basis. Repairs will be carried out following our strict coronavirus safety guidelines and using risk assessments to keep you and us safe. To help with this we ask for clear access to the rooms we need to work in and for tenants to keep their distance while we carry out the required work, preferably in another room.

Essential checks, such as our annual gas, electrical and fire safety checks, are also still required to help keep you safe in your home. Engineers will wear protective gloves and masks and will maintain social distancing at all times. Access should be granted unless the customer is shielding or unwell, and we ask customers to please let us know if this is the case in advance of the visit.

Our emergency repairs number (0808 144 5368) can be used outside of working hours where a tenant is at risk and needs a repair urgently. It is managed by a call-out team who will need to decide whether your repair needs to be dealt with as an emergency. Please do not use this number for standard repairs as you may prevent someone with a genuine emergency from reaching us quickly.

Your help is needed: With the rate of Covid-19 transmissions rising, please consider whether your repair is essential and cannot wait before booking it with us. We want to reduce our non-essential repairs to help protect your household and our colleagues, and prioritise cases that are most urgent. Our strict safety measures are still in place when we do visit your home, to make sure you  are safe. However, we ask that you also take precautions and consider whether your repair is time critical.

Please be aware there may be additional delays to some services as we continue to support Bury Council where we can on their response to tackling the virus locally. 


Customer and staff welfare is our top priority whilst dealing with COVID19. In these unprecedented times, like other public services, we are trying to continue to deliver as many services as we can for customers in the safest way possible both for staff and customers. We have developed a number of risk assessments to support us in doing so. 

On 18/05/2020 the Government issued a letter to tenants to provide an update on their plans for social housing as they work to reopen society. Six Town Housing will be following the Government's guidance. You can download a copy of the letter here.      

1. Rent and finance 

2. Repairs

3. Reception

4. Capital works

5. Contact centre

6. Our workforce

7. Home visits

8. Damp and Condensation inspections

9. Bury Council's Community Hubs

10. Be aware - bogus callers and scams

11. Right To Buy applications

12. Bury Council's Ground Maintenance service

13. Domestic violence and abuse 

14. Useful links including information from the Government (including coronavirus guidance and their grant scheme), Bury Council and OFGEM about your energy supply


Rent and finance

We know that some tenants are worried about how they will pay their rent if they have the virus or need to self-isolate. We want to reassure you that no one will lose their home if they end up in rent arrears because of coronavirus.

If you fall behind with your rent or are struggling to pay it on time, let us know. We are providing a service to help both tenants and those renting privately, where we can advise on the support available to help you apply for the benefits you are entitled to. We can assist you while you are making an online application for Universal Credit and answer any questions you have about the process. We can also refer people who are struggling financially to the Citizens Advice Bureau for further financial advice and guidance. Find out more here

If you or any friends or family need help with applying for Universal Credit, this easy online tutorial could be just what you need. You will learn what Universal Credit is, how to make your first claim online and what information you will need to do this. This is a free tutorial, just use our code 8005879 when registering on this webpage.

You can find useful information about Universal Credit on the Department of Work and Pensions website here. The Money Advice Service has also shared useful information, tips and guidance for those who may experience a drop in their income due to coronavirus here.

Please be aware that in the current climate there may be a rise in loan shark activity. Loan sharks take advantage of people who find themselves in a difficult financial position and the current situation means more may be at risk. Don't let them get their teeth stuck into your community, report them now. Find out more here.


Repairs

Six Town Housing are continuing to carry out the majority of repairs for tenants, but will need to review the situation on a daily basis. Repairs will be carried out following our strict coronavirus safety guidelines (which are in line with Government guidance) and using risk assessments to keep you and us safe. To help with this we ask for clear access to the rooms we need to work in and for tenants to keep their distance while we carry out the required work, preferably in another room.

Essential checks, such as our annual gas, electrical and fire safety checks, are also still required to help keep you safe in your home. Engineers will wear protective gloves and masks and will maintain social distancing at all times. Access should be granted unless the customer is shielding or unwell, and we ask customers to please let us know if this is the case in advance of the visit.

We would like to thank all tenants who responded to our survey in May 2020, which asked how you feel about us returning to your homes to carry out repairs. We received 367 replies and 80% of these respondents said that they would currently book repairs with us and be happy for us to enter their home to carry these out. Many of the 20% who said that they would prefer us not to still offered practical advice and solutions to indicate what we could do to make them feel at ease if we did need to enter their home, which have influenced the safety measures we are taking.

Our emergency repairs number (0808 144 5368) can be used outside of working hours where a tenant is at risk and needs a repair urgently. It is managed by a call-out team who will need to decide whether your repair needs to be dealt with as an emergency. Please do not use this number for standard repairs as you may prevent someone with a genuine emergency from reaching us quickly.


Reception

Our reception is closed until further notice, but we are still responding to tenant enquiries during working hours. Access our livechat our use our contact form to send us an email: www.sixtownhousing.org/contact-us

You can also call us on 0161 686 8000 or send us a message through Facebook: www.facebook.com/sixtownhousing

We have more information about ways you can contact us online here. If you require support from Bury Council's Housing Assessment Team, please call 0161 253 5537 during working hours or email HAT@bury.gov.uk. You can also visit the Town Hall reception for support on Knowsley St, Bury, BL9 0SW. If you have an emergency for the Housing Assessment Team after 5pm or on weekends, please call 0161 253 6606. 


Capital Works

Our Capital Improvements team piloted a return, after needing to pause work when the original lockdown occured (find out more here). Work is now being carried out safely in line with Government guidelines. 


Contact centre

Our dedicated contact centre team are still responding to enquiries, but have experienced a large increase in calls. To save you the time of waiting, we recommend using our online methods.


Our workforce

During this difficult time, the Health and Safety of both our customers and staff is very important to us. As such, we have implemented homeworking arrangements to facilitate as many members of staff working from home, including providing IT equipment to enable remote working. 

For those members of staff who cannot carry out their jobs from home, such as our tradespeople, we are continuing to follow Government and Public Health England guidelines around safe working, including social distancing.

As acknowledged by the Government, not everyone can work from home but it is important for businesses to carry on. The Government guidance states that ‘work carried out in people’s homes, for example by tradespeople carrying out repairs and maintenance, can continue, provided that the tradesperson is well and has no symptoms.’ This includes Health and Safety checks including gas safety checks.

We have asked staff from all teams to stay home if they need to self-isolate or have symptoms, or take sick leave if they are unwell. We will not put customers or other staff at risk.

We won’t be offended if you don’t want to let us in, but we may need access if our visit relates to essential Health and Safety works. We will work with you on this if that is the case to determine the best possible solution.


Home visits

For the safety of everyone, please do not be offended if our staff ask you a few questions before visiting your home and work with them to answer these honestly. This is for their safety and your welfare.

If customers are self-isolating or have symptoms, we will need to postpone the appointment until a later date or find another way to contact you, such as by phone. 


Damp and Condensation inspections

We are busy working on the backlog created during lockdown of requests for inspection visits and repairs associated with damp and condensation in our properties. We’d like to thank you for your continued patience and assure you that the inspection and repairs team will get to you as soon as practically possible.  In the meantime, you will find guidance about the causes of damp and condensation here


Bury Council's Community Hubs

Bury Council has set up community hubs, working with voluntary groups and local volunteers to provide support and arrange delivery of food and medical supplies to those in the borough most vulnerable to coronavirus (COVID - 19).

The network is here to help those who do not have support to source food and medical supplies or access hardship grants.

Anyone living in the Borough of Bury without a support network who meets one or more of the following criteria can access support:

- Have received a letter advising them that they are in the most vulnerable group and should be shielded

- Is aged 70 or over and has underlying health conditions.

- Is otherwise socially or economically vulnerable

Support can be requested from Bury Community Hubs by completing their online request for help form or by phoning their contact team.

Contact them online: Open their Request help from Bury Community Hubs online form.

Contact them by phone: Dial 0161 253 5353 (7 days a week, 9am to 5pm).


Domestic Violence and Abuse

It has been widely reported that domestic violence and abuse cases have risen since the lockdown and help is still available for those who need it. Despite COVID 19 you can still report these to the Police and they will attend if required. You can find out more about reporting domestic violence and abuse, making a safety plan and accessing other support here.


Be aware - bogus callers and scams

Greater Manchester Police regularly post about scams that are affecting local residents on their social media. There have been several recently relating to coronavirus. You can follow Greater Manchester Police on Facebook or Twitter for updates.

Be aware of bogus callers, who may phone you or knock on your door pretending to be someone official to either trick their way inside or collect sensitive information from you, such as your financial details. View more information about bogus callers and how to report them here.

Stay alert to scam text messages, emails or webpages you see when browsing the internet asking you to click a link or return personal information, such as financial details. View more information about these types of scams and how to report them here


Right To Buy applications

Due to earlier restrictions as a result of Covid-19 we apologise that the Council has been unable to carry out valuations on properties where a Right To Buy application has been submitted. We have now put measures in place to re-start this function and will be working our way through the resulting backlog. In the meantime we thank you for your continued patience and understanding.


Grounds Maintenance

Six Town Housing has been contacted by several tenants asking to be referred to the Grounds Maintenance service at Bury Council. 

The cutting of grass, maintenance of landscaped areas and tree pruning carried out by the team is currently suspended to help protect their workforce and others during the coronavirus outbreak and so that they can prioritise grave digging at this difficult time. Essential tree work is still being carried out where this is an emergency.  

Their decision to suspend grass cutting and other aspects of grounds maintenance is under regular review against current guidance from the government. Normal business will be resumed as soon as practicably possible. 


Useful links

Access the latest advice from the Government about coronavirus and what you need to do

View the latest advice and guidance from Bury Council

View information from Ofgem if you are concerned about your energy supply, prepayment meter top-ups or energy debt

Use this Government grant scheme if you are self-employed or a member of a partnership and have lost income due to coronavirus

Information for Tenants and Landlords in the Private Rented Sector in Greater Manchester

Tell Greater Manchester Police about a possible breach of coronavirus measures 


As you know government advice changes daily and we will update you regularly on any other changes to services. The welfare of our customers and staff is of upmost importance. Please take care.