Housing for later living: caring about your business and guiding you through
With the spread of coronavirus causing increasing concern we’re working with organisations and business of all sizes across all sectors to guide them through this challenging time for everyone. The later living sector is a sector we know well and to help we’re included below some our top tips for all parties to consider.
Call our dedicated team to chat through any problems or issues you may be facing, we’re here to guide you through.
Things to consider
- With supply chains under pressure, cash flow may become tight so make sure you are talking to your funders…. Funders generally don’t like surprises and won’t know what they’re not told. Stay in detailed contact with them and ensure you have a contingency plan and share it with them.
- Every business will need to update their risk registers. It pays to plan for the reasonable worst case scenario (and hope for the best). Multiple scenario planning is crucial.
- The government is formulating its thinking on assistance plans on a daily basis and there are a wide range of measures being announced to assist businesses – business rates relief, sick pay assistance, loan guarantees. It’s important for all businesses to keep abreast of what’s available.
- Take advice on your contracts on any force majeure provisions. It’s important to understand what rights you have to enforce against suppliers, should you need to.
- Your AGM might well be approaching and we know this is an important time for many organisations. It doesn’t have to be a standard meeting – other options are available such as virtual or hybrid AGMs and participation is usually greater too!
- Being able to make good decisions at the right time has never been more critical, so ensure your Board and senior management teams are set up for electronic decision-making and that you review your delegated authorities to ensure they remain sufficient, should key individuals have to self-isolate.
- This is a time for landlords and residential tenants to work together and support each other. The government has taken emergency steps to augment the landlord and tenant relationship by preventing landlord’s bringing possession proceedings for at least three months. COVID-19 would not in our view be an enforceable reason for either the landlord or tenant to end a tenancy agreement or Lease. The detail in relation to this ban is yet to be published but what is clear is that no tenant in the private or social housing sector should be concerned about the threat of eviction during the pandemic. If a tenant has concerns then they need to speak with their landlord.
- Give employees flexibility where you can – with schools now closing, many will have dependants at home. Try to be as understanding as you can and look at options such as sharing staff with other facilities and discussing different working patterns. Many businesses are allowing real flexibility on hours to fit around child care needs.
- Remember that if a member of staff, following government advice, decides to self-isolate, they are entitled to statutory sick pay as they are considered incapable of work. This doesn’t affect the fact that sick pay will be paid after the third qualifying day, but the government has announced its intention to bring this forward to be payable from the first day of absence. Details are yet to be announced.
- Communicate openly with your residents and their families – it may be necessary to close communal areas in your buildings completely. Social media can be a wonderful thing – explore the options of using technology to ensure your residents can communicate with their families. It will help with isolation and keep spirits up.
- Exercise and fresh air will be a real issue, especially for people living in apartments. Apps such as ‘Zoom’ can be downloaded for free and your residents can join virtual exercise classes such as Yoga and sofa singing is also an option, to keep people’s spirits up.
- A problem shared is a problem halved; collaborating with other organisations in your locality can open the door to a much wider supply chain for the delivery of critical goods and services if your usual suppliers are no longer able to cope. Plus you never know what other opportunities may arise when you work together!
We are pleased to work closely with the Housing LIN (Learning and Improvement Network). The Housing LIN’s Health Intel website contains a dedicated page on coronavirus which captures latest government guidance and a practical briefing for the later living sector on responding to COVID-19. Visit their site here.
We are continuing to share our knowledge and expertise online. You can register for one of our learning events or contact the events team for more details or for more general business advice in relation to coronavirus visit our dedicated resource hub.