The autumn national lockdown - our initial analysis and next steps

02 November 2020

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement over the weekend about a new national lockdown, we are sharing our initial analysis of what this means for the sector, and our next steps to ensure housing associations are supported through this new phase.

We fully appreciate that this is a worrying time for residents, and housing association staff - we remain committed to doing everything we can to make sure our members are informed, connected and heard during this challenging time. If you have any immediate questions, please get in touch with us.

Main points for housing associations

The government has published some initial guidance on the new lockdown, and we coordinated an urgent roundtable with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) this morning to discuss a number of points for our sector.

The Housing Minister, Chris Pincher, was keen to stress in the roundtable that the government recognises both the economic contribution of the housing association sector and our positive impact on public and social services.

We can now clarify that:

  • Moving home: Renters and homeowners will still be able to move, and removal firms and estate agents can still operate.
  • Construction: Construction sites can and should continue, but must follow coronavirus safety guidance. The government is keen to see the sector continue building through this national lockdown, so if there are issues that you’d like us to raise with the government that will help with you maintain development please get in touch.
  • Offices: Where possible, all staff must work from home.
  • Repairs and maintenance: Tradespeople will be able to enter homes, but must follow coronavirus safety guidance. There may be questions about whether this will apply to routine as well as emergency repairs and maintenance work - our understanding is that both can go ahead, but we will clarify this as soon as we can.
  • Gas safety inspections: We anticipate that gas safety inspections in homes will be expected to go ahead, and will confirm this as soon as we can. We appreciate that, even if permitted, organisations may face difficulties with access as residents may feel unsafe with inspectors in their home. We will keep in touch with MHCLG and the regulator on this issue and provide further information soon.
  • Economic impact on residents and shared owners: Mortgage payment holidays were due to end on 31 October. The scheme is now open to new applicants to defer payments for six months. Those who have had their payments deferred already can extend their mortgage holiday until they reach the six month limit.
  • Vulnerable residents: People are not being asked to shield in the same way again, but if you are working with vulnerable people you should minimise their contact with others. The government intends to clarify a number of issues on this point over the next few days, and we will seek clarity for supported housing specifically on these issues including on visits, and anticipate further guidance and regulations may follow.

You can read more detail in this message to the housing industry.

Update: further information is now available in our summary of the new landlord tenant guidance, which includes further details on evictions.

The government has also extended the furlough scheme to March and increased self-employed support. Further information is available on the government's website.

In addition, the government has announced the Protect Programme – £15m of funding for rough sleeper accommodation available until March 2021. You can read our summary of the Protect Programme.

Next steps

Following our initial roundtable with MHCLG today, we will continue meeting with government officials to discuss the national lockdown and its impact on our sector. We know that our members will have questions about what happens after the national lockdown comes to an end, and how the previous tier system may apply and what that means for staff and residents.

In the meantime, please get in touch with us with any questions, feedback or concerns. This will help us understand any immediate priorities, which can shape our upcoming conversations with officials and partners.

Who to speak to

Contact the team