Coronavirus: Advice and updates on service status

How we're helping

We understand you may be worried about Covid-19 (Coronavirus) and how it could affect you.

The situation continues to change, and we are following the advice of the Scottish Government and NHS Scotland.

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart has written an open letter to housing association, co-operative and council tenants to provide information and advice on Scotland's Route Map for moving out of the coronavirus crisis. You can read it here

But don’t worry, if you need us please call us on 0800 013 2196 at any time of the night or day.

Thank you for your understanding and for working with us to help reduce the risk. Our approach is based on the ‘social distancing’ concept. This means we are reducing the amount of contact our staff have with each other and with customers, whilst still allowing us to provide a service to those who need it most.

You can also find most of this information in our FAQs at the bottom of this page, so please take a look at these before contacting us.

Updates: Service changes

General Information

As you will all be aware, the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to dominate the news and we know that you will have concerns about how this affects you and your home.

Please know we will do all we can to support you and your family through these extraordinary times. Safeguarding the welfare of our customers and colleagues will always be our top priority.

As a result, we are encouraging all customers and staff, where possible, to stay put and stay safe.

By working together and following the Government’s advice, we can all help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

We recommend you always refer to these sites for updates: Scottish Government and NHS Scotland.

What we’ll be doing?

Even though our offices are closed we know that many residents are relying on us to provide essential services to their homes.

As a result, we have made significant changes to our services in order to support you through these difficult times.

To provide essential services and accommodate these changes, we have:

  • fully equipped staff to work from home and although home visits are suspended, your housing officer will remain in contact with you by telephone, email and text
  • restricted repairs and maintenance to emergency and essential services only. (Unsure what constitutes an emergency repair? Check here.)
  • urged all tenants to let us know if, through being ill or self-isolating, they will find it difficult to pay their rent
  • ensured all appointments with welfare benefits and fuel advisors are fulfilled by phone

How we can help?

We are here to help and support you if you are struggling to pay your rent. To reassure you, in line with Government guidance, we will not evict any resident at this time due to rent arrears.

If you are suffering from financial hardship and struggling to pay your rent as a direct result of the Coronavirus outbreak, please contact us as soon as possible on 0800 013 2196.

For those residents who are not affected financially, we expect rent payments to be made as normal.

Additional information

We understand this is a very difficult time. The Government has announced a number of ways in which it will support people in work, or out of work, who have been impacted by the current crisis. 

For residents claiming benefits, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has issued new guidance here.

This guidance covers changes to jobcentre appointments, special arrangements for people already claiming benefits, advice for people making new claims for benefits and information for self-employed people.

We have identified our most vulnerable customers and will make welfare calls to them to ensure they have the support they need.

Don’t forget we’re still here when you need us.

Customer’s wishing to contact our Customer Experience team can still do so on 0800 013 2196 although we are experiencing a high number of calls so please bear with us.

We will continue to update this page as the situation changes.

Thank you for your understanding and please: stay safe.

Face-to-face appointments

To safeguard the wellbeing of our tenants and staff, River Clyde Homes will be limiting face-to-face contact for all services until further notice.

Paying your rent

You should continue to pay your rent as normal. We understand some tenants may have their income reduced as a result of this situation. If this is the case, please contact us immediately and we will do what we can to support you.

We recommend reading this useful link.

General advice until further notice

When our staff and/or contractors phone to make an appointment they will ask if anyone is unwell with a cough or temperature and schedule the visit taking account of any self-isolating period.

Please tell us if you or any of your household:

  • are self-isolating or
  • have come back from travelling in an affected area in the last 14 days..

If a customer is self-isolating then we would look to delay attendance until it is safe for them, and us, to visit.

Your assistance and understanding when asked these questions is most appreciated as we are taking this action to minimise the risk of infection to you and your household. 

If one of our staff has to visit your home please follow the social distancing guidance.

But don’t worry, if you need us please call us on 0800 013 2196 at any time of the night or day. Or you can email us at customerexperience@riverclydehomes.org.uk

Protecting you

The health and safety of our customers and colleagues is our top priority.

The number of people now affected by the coronavirus is growing and the government's is enforcing new rules for everyone to stay at home. We are doing everything we can to try to prevent it spreading across the communities we serve whilst continuing to provide essential services for customers.

Essential repairs and gas servicing

We are still carrying out essential repairs and gas servicing. All non essential work will be re-rescheduled when the government's social contact measures are relaxed. This is to stop the potential for the virus spreading and is for your safety. If you have an appointment booked, our customer service and support team will be in touch with you about this. 

Find out more about what constitutes an emergency repair here.

Our colleagues visit some of the most vulnerable members of your community so to keep everyone safe, please open the door for our trades team and then go into another room and close the door behind you while we carry out the work. It is really important that everyone in your home including children are kept safely in the room with you.  

They will wash their hands when they arrive and when they leave. They will have soap and their own towels. Allowing them to wash their hands is to protect you and our colleagues.

Housing advice, support & neighbourhood management

We know that people will still need to get in touch and our colleagues can provide advice and support over the telephone. Please call us on 0800 013 2196 or drop us an email customerexperience@riverclydehomes.org.uk 

Cleaning

We have stepped up cleaning in all communal areas in apartment blocks and have specific plans in place at our homes for older people and in our supported housing.

We're also asking customers to let us know if they are self isolating or are unwell so that we can clean any communal areas where necessary. 

So that we can increase the internal cleaning, some other services will be will suspended until further notice. This is so the teams can move to cleaning more essential areas which is more important at this time.

Keeping services running

All our colleagues who can work from home are doing so. This is to limit the contact colleagues have with each other. This will help us to ensure we can keep essential services running for customers during this difficult time.

Keeping you informed

We are closely monitoring the government's emerging guidance and reviewing the latest information to agree any actions we need to take. The website is being updated daily and email updates are being sent to customers when we need to. The guidance and advice is evolving all the time so sending information via the post is not practical.

Help us to help you

If you start with any symptoms, please let us know immediately so we can put plans in place to protect any other residents and rearrange any appointments we may have to visit you. We're keeping in regular contact with customers and colleagues who are self isolating to check on their wellbeing.

Paying your rent

You can check your rent account balance and pay your accounts using our Tenant Portal service.  Your Housing Officer can set you up for this service on request.

You can pay by any of the following methods:

  • Online using our tenant portal or Allpay website;
  • Set up a Direct Debit or standing order from your bank or building society account. 
  • Telephone our Customer Experience Team on 0800 013 2196 at any time of the day or night, 7 days a week.
  • In person at any Post Office or Paypoint outlet. Find your local paypoint here
  • In person at Inverclyde Council's Municipal Buildings, Clyde Square, Greenock;
  • By post to River Clyde Homes and paying by cheque.

Paypoints aren't open for me to pay my rent?

We know that some customers like to pay their rent at a shop and will be unable to do this at the moment. But don't worry, we offer lots of ways for you to pay, just choose the one that’s right for you.

Direct Debit

The simplest way to pay your rent is by Direct Debit. This offers you greater choice allowing you to pay your rent any day of the week. It allows you to set-up a Direct Debit by phone and with options to pay at a time that suits you. If you choose Direct Debit you will be safeguarded with:

  • an immediate money back guarantee from your bank in the event of an error in the payment of your Direct Debit;
  • advance notice if the date or amount changes and
  • the right to cancel at any time.

To take advantage of this service please contact our Customer Experience team on  0800 013 2196.

Paying online

Payments can be made via the Allpay website. You will need to have both your debit/credit card and your account swipe card handy when making payments online. 

Direct Payments

If you receive Housing Benefit, you can request that the Local Authority pay this directly to us. If you receive Universal Credit, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) may be able to pay this directly to us if you meet certain criteria, contact them to find out if you are eligible.

Pay by phone

Call us on 0800 013 2196. Have your debit/credit card details to hand as well as your customer reference and invoice number. Select option 2. Payments are accepted 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

We're here to help

We understand that these are difficult times and appreciate that people may be worried about their income and how they will pay their rent. Everyone's personal circumstances are unique to them and people will be affected in different ways.

If you are worried about paying your rent, please contact us as soon as possible. We can help.

Our financial inclusion team are fully up to speed with the latest support measures the government has made available to people affected by the coronavirus. If you would like us to contact you about this, please contact the team today on 0800 013 2196 or email customerexperience@riverclydehomes.org.uk.

Letting properties

During the coronavirus pandemic, customer and staff safety continue to be our top priorities and we continue to follow Scottish Government guidelines. 

However, we have been working in partnership with Inverclyde Council and Women’s Aid to assist those most in need and wherever possible, prevent homelessness. 

From Friday the 22nd May we re-introduced the advertising of a limited number of properties on our Home Connections site on a weekly basis.

However, you will be pleased to hear that we are now able to begin an ‘as near as normal’ lettings service. But please bear with us – due to ongoing restrictions, things may take a little longer than usual and we thank-you in advance for your patience.

Properties are now being advertised online and you can view and bid for a new home as usual here

We will continue to follow Government guidelines on the allocation of properties. In particular we will restrict the letting of properties to customers who have increased vulnerability as defined by those guidelines.  For example, for reasons you’ll understand, we will not be letting properties in our sheltered housing complexes for the time being.

If you have any questions regarding your housing application, our staff are here to help at any time and they can be contacted by calling: 0800 013 2196. 

Sheltered housing advice

Your health and safety is our top priority.

Following the latest government guidance, we have had to make some decisions about your building to make sure we protect everyone. You have an important role to play in this.

What we're doing

As there is no way to tell who may be carrying the virus we have asked our Wardens not to communicate with you on a face-to-face basis. Your Warden will now call you on a daily basis to check in and help you with any issues. Your Warden will now call you on a daily basis to check in and help you with any issues. Your Warden will be onsite Monday-Friday 8.45am – 5.00pm. They will be working from the office in the complex and still be contactable via telephone.

We will continue to provide cleaning services, daily as far as possible, in all common areas and our staff will be focussing on ‘commonly touched surfaces’ such as door handles, lift buttons, entry/exit buttons and handrails.

We will be only be carrying out emergency repairs during this period. You can continue to report your repairs via our Customer Experience Team. If you are unsure about a repair, please call us.

We will continue to provide a 24/7 customer contact service for you to report repairs, pay your rent or ask for advice. Our number is 0800 013 2196.

What we ask from you

We strongly advise that you follow the Government’s guidance on social distancing and, if applicable, shielding. We ask that you do not hold activities in the common areas with your neighbours and stay 2 meters away from any neighbours at all times throughout the complex. Remember, we all have a part to play in reducing the spread of this virus, please help us to support our NHS by following the rules. We need to support the Government in ‘flattening the curve’ and supporting our NHS to manage the number of people who need hospital treatment at any one time.We urge that you keep as active as possible during this time. Some suggestions could be to join in some online fitness classes if you have access to the internet. Alternatively, go a walk around the garden or building each day, ensuring that you practice social distancing throughout.

Please only invite essential visitors to your property. Essential visitors could be people to drop off shopping or medication or to take away laundry. We must limit the number of people who are coming into the complex to prevent the spread of the virus wherever possible.

We will endeavour to keep the laundry facilities open however please use the laundry on a ‘one in, one out’ basis. If you arrive at the laundry and another customer is there please leave and return when they are finished. We appreciate that all customers need to get into the laundry but it is not possible to practice effective social distancing in many of these areas.

We appreciate that this guidance may be a lot to take in and that this is a difficult time for all of us. However, we want to remind you again that we are here for you. Our staff are ready to help and support you in whatever way they can so please call us. Let’s work together to keep safe and well.

If you are unsure about any of the information outlined above or would like more information, please call us on 0800 013 2196.

Cutting Grass

You may be wondering why we are cutting grass in these current times.

Well, as you know government guidance and restrictions mean that the upkeep of community spaces is more important than ever.

As a result, it is also important that the grass around our vulnerable housing complexes are continually cut and looked after. Failure to do so could pose a risk to those out exercising, collecting medication or going to essential workplaces.

We are also continuing to move employees to different positions where demand for services is increasing as part of our business continuity measures. As a result, other important services (including grass cutting) are continuing, albeit in a scaled back manner. Our grounds maintenance teams form part of our Environmental Service, meaning those cutting grass can also support critical functions such as bulk uplift.

As always, safeguarding essential services and protecting staff and residents remains our priority. This is why it's important that we continue to maintain the areas of land near some of our more vulnerable residents. Staff will also continue to adhere to strict social distancing guidance, maintain the correct hygiene advice and wear the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment when carrying out work.

We thank you for your continued support.

 

 

Live in a multi-storey?

Your caretaking service will be on site daily between 8am and 4pm.

There will be an end-of-day safety check and the laundries will be locked at the usual time.

Please support your caretaker and observe social distancing guidance.

If you need us, call us on 0800 013 2196.

Disposing of waste

If you have confirmed or suspected COVID-19 and are in self-isolation, your personal waste (such as used tissues and disposable cleaning cloths):

  • Should be put in a plastic rubbish bag and tied when full
  • The plastic bag should then be placed in a second bin bag and tied
  • It should then be stored for at least 72 hours before it can be put in with your normal household waste

Other household waste can be disposed of as normal.

Are you worried about money?

We understand that you may be worried about the impact this may have on your finances. Please see below the latest information from the government for people in work, and those claiming benefits.

For people already claiming support

Special arrangements will be in place for people in receipt of benefits who cannot attend reassessments or jobcentre appointments because they are required to stay at home or are infected by coronavirus.

The arrangements are:

  • disabled and sick claimants who cannot attend a reassessment for Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Universal Credit will continue to receive their payments while their assessment is rearranged
  • people who need to claim ESA or Universal Credit because of coronavirus will not be required to produce a fit note
  • when claimants tell the DWP in good time that they are staying at home or that they have been diagnosed with coronavirus, they will not be sanctioned – they will review their conditionality requirements in their claimant commitment, to ensure they are reasonable
  • claimants who are staying at home as a result of coronavirus will have their mandatory work search and work availability requirements removed to account for a period of sickness

For people who need to make a new claim for financial support

We understand people who are required to stay at home or are infected by coronavirus may need financial support, and quickly.

The arrangements are: 

  • those affected by coronavirus will be able to apply for Universal Credit and can receive up to a month’s advance up front without physically attending a jobcentre
  • the 7 waiting days for ESA for new claimants will not apply if they are suffering from coronavirus or are required to stay at home – so it will be payable from day one

Employees and self-employed people

To make sure people in work can take the necessary time off to stay at home if they are suffering from coronavirus or to prevent its spread, changes have been made to Statutory Sick Pay and how Universal Credit supports self-employed claimants.

This includes:

  • people who cannot work due to coronavirus and are eligible for Statutory Sick Pay will get it from day one, rather than from the fourth day of their illness –  the DWP intend to legislate so this measure applies retrospectively from 13 March 2020
  • Statutory Sick Pay will be payable to people who are staying at home on government advice, not just those who are infected, from 13 March 2020 after regulations were laid on 12 March 2020 – employers are urged to use their discretion about what evidence, if any, they ask for
  • if employees need to provide evidence to their employer that they need to stay at home due to the coronavirus, they will be able to get it from the NHS 111 Online instead of having to get a fit note from their doctor – this is currently under development and will be made available soon
  • self-employed claimants on Universal Credit who are required to stay at home or are ill as a result of coronavirus will not have a Minimum Income Floor (an assumed level of income) applied for a period of time while affected

Businesses

The government wants to ensure businesses are supported to deal with the temporary economic impacts of an outbreak of coronavirus.

Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be able to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay for employees unable to work because of coronavirus. This refund will be for up to 2 weeks per employee.

Find out about other government support for businesses.

Source: www.gov.uk

We're here to help

If you have any concerns about managing your money, please contact us. Our financial inclusion team are specially trained to offer expert money guidance and have helped hundreds of customers to manage their money well and deal with debt. Contact them on 0800 013 2196.

Customer Information on the RCH Group Complaints process (COVID-19) 

In light of the current situation and unprecedented circumstances, you may experience some delays when submitting complaints to RCH Group (River Clyde Homes Group). We understand this may cause some distress and inconvenience for our customers. 

We would encourage you to refrain from submitting complaints to our office in relation to any of the following matters: 

Delays with complaints responses.  

Matters which are likely to resolve themselves within the next few weeks/months.  

Delays in service delivery which are a direct result of the RCH Group having to cope with COVID-19 and which are non-essential.  

The RCH Group will continue to support our customers through these uncertain times and will focus on the most vulnerable as a priority. We are mindful that the current situation may change at short notice, depending on national guidance. We will continue to monitor the situation and the advice available to us and assess the ways in which we can continually provide our service, while at the same time protect our colleagues and customers.  

Symptoms and what to do

If you start showing symptoms and need to stay at home please let us know immediately so we can put plans in place to protect you, your neighbours and our staff.

You can find the latest advice from the NHS here

Pleas stay at home if you have either:

  • a high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
  • a new, continuous cough – this means you've started coughing repeatedly
  • loss/change in sense of smell
  • loss/change in sense of taste

Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you're staying at home.

Testing for coronavirus is not needed if you're staying at home.

How long to stay at home

  • if you have symptoms, stay at home for 7 days
  • if you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms

If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days.

If you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible.

Read the NHS advice about staying at home.

Urgent advice: Use the nhs 111 online coronavirus service if:

  • you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home
  • your condition gets worse
  • your symptoms do not get better after 7 days

Use the 111 coronavirus service if you cannot get help online.

Source: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

Staying at home

The government is enforcing new rules on staying at home and away from others.

The single most important action we can all take, in fighting coronavirus, is to stay at home in order to protect the NHS and save lives. When we reduce our day-to-day contact with other people, we will reduce the spread of the infection. That is why the government is now (23 March 2020) introducing three new measures.

1. Requiring people to stay at home, except for very limited purposes

2. Closing non-essential shops and community spaces

3. Stopping all gatherings of more than two people in public Every citizen must comply with these new measures. The relevant authorities, including the police, will be given the powers to enforce them – including through fines and dispersing gatherings.

These measures are effective immediately. The Government will look again at these measures in three weeks, and relax them if the evidence shows this is possible.

 

Useful links

We recommend you always refer to these sites for updates: 

 

Coronavirus Frequently Asked Questions

Why are still cutting grass?

You may be wondering why we are cutting grass in these current times.

Well, as you know government guidance and restrictions mean that the upkeep of community spaces is more important than ever.

As a result, it is also important that the grass around our vulnerable housing complexes are continually cut and looked after. Failure to do so could pose a risk to those out exercising, collecting medication or going to essential workplaces.

We are also continuing to move employees to different positions where demand for services is increasing as part of our business continuity measures. As a result, other important services (including grass cutting) are continuing, albeit in a scaled back manner. Our grounds maintenance teams form part of our Environmental Service, meaning those cutting grass can also support critical functions such as bulk uplift.

As always, safeguarding essential services and protecting staff and residents remains our priority. This is why it's important that we continue to maintain the areas of land near some of our more vulnerable residents. Staff will also continue to adhere to strict social distancing guidance, maintain the correct hygiene advice and wear the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment when carrying out work.

We thank you for your continued support.

 

 

Are you still carrying out repairs?

We are only carrying out essential emergency works and under strict guidelines. Unsure what counts as an emergency repair? Find out more here.

 

What health and safety precautions can I expect when you are carrying out a repair in my home?

We have carried out a risk assessment regarding emergency/essential repairs and our trade personnel are fully versed on the content.

You will be asked questions by our customer experience team before the visit and will be asked to sanitise the area that our staff will be working in prior to our tradesperson attending the property.

We will require all occupants and family pets to remain in another room for the duration of the repair and no visitors will be given access. Government and NHS guidance on social distancing must be observed at all times. Further printed information will be available from the tradesperson at the time of the visit.

What Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) will your staff be wearing?

We will continue to carry out emergency appointments in a way that is safe for you, your family and our colleagues. Staff will be wearing appropriate PPE in line with the risk assessment for the job undertaken in addition to PPE recommended by the Government and NHS.

 

Are you still carrying out Investment works?

Are you still carrying out Investment works?

 

As the Coronavirus crisis continues, we’re doing everything we can to provide essential services to our communities while safeguarding the welfare and well-being of our customers and staff.

We are following all the latest government guidance on tackling Coronavirus and as a result we are providing a restricted range of services with many of our staff now working from home.

This means work on some of our improvement projects have had to be put on hold or delayed while we work through these exceptional times.

Unfortunately, work that we were due to start will now be delayed. As soon as the situation eases we will be back in touch with you to let you know when the work can begin.

If work has already started on kitchens and bathrooms, our contractors will finish the work. All other projects that have already started will be put on hold.

Please don’t worry, we are going to make the area completely safe and will leave it tidy for you and your neighbours.

Again, as soon as the situation eases we will be back in touch with you to let you know when the work can begin.