Coronavirus update – key workers, our political engagement, and plans for member consultation

20 March 2020

This update covers the government’s announcement on key workers, our political engagement, and how we’re consulting with members during the crisis.

An update on key workers

On 19 March, the government published guidance on who is classified as a key workers for the purposes of their children attending school or nursery. The guidance mentions care workers and charity workers delivering frontline services. We think this should include key housing association staff in critical care, support, and safety functions, but this isn’t explicit and we know you need more clarity.

We’ve called publicly for frontline housing staff such as care and support staff and waking watch staff to be included. We’re in regular contact with senior officials at MHCLG, who understand the urgency and importance of this issue. We’ve proposed an interpretation of the current guidance so that it applies to key housing association staff.

Our political engagement

Our members have been sharing key issues and priorities that are emerging as they tackle the coronavirus crisis. We’ve used this feedback to shape four priorities for our lobbying and policy work over the coming months:

  • Keeping people safe.
  • Protecting resident incomes and livelihoods.
  • Sustaining critical services.
  • Supporting communities and recovery.

Our Chief Executive, Kate Henderson, is due to meet the Housing Minister in the week of 23 March, and will raise these priorities with him directly, setting out how housing associations can work with the government to tackle this crisis, and ensuring our members have what they need to do that.

We’re also talking to officials across the government, including at the Department for Work and Pensions, Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, the Treasury, and the Department of Health and Social Care, about these issues. We’ll also be engaging with other ministers, parliamentary allies, and sector partners.

We’re producing a briefing setting out the vital work that housing associations are doing in each of these areas and what our members need from the government to keep delivering in these challenging times. We’ll share the briefing with our members and discuss it at our upcoming member engagement forums.

Consulting members during this crisis

As always, everything the NHF does is guided by the issues our members are facing and the priorities of our member organisations. While the coronavirus outbreak is challenging us all to work differently, consulting with our members is as central to our work as it has ever been.

To continue this consultation during the crisis, we’re holding existing member engagement meetings remotely wherever possible, issuing regular email updates, and setting up new forums like our LinkedIn group.

The crisis is so fast-moving that at times we’ll need to respond even more quickly than usual to emerging government policy or national debate. To make sure that even our most rapid responses are tested by our members, we’ve set up a Coronavirus Rapid Response Group, which includes a cross-section of our members, drawn from every part of the sector.  

If your organisation is an NHF member, you can sign up to receive our email updates – please get in touch with your name and organisation.