January 2024: Retirement Living Court Newsletter
The January 2024 edition of the Retirement Living Court Newsletter will cover the following topics:
- We’re turning 60!
- Housing Regulation Changes
- Calling all residents – Nominate an outstanding contractor!
- Get your finances in shape!
- Community and Wellbeing Fund
- Celebrating our employees
- Listen to our podcast
- We need your feedback!
- Pendants – testing procedures
We’re turning 60!
We want to take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy New Year.
2024 is an exciting year for Housing 21, as it marks our 60th anniversary of providing high quality housing with care or support for older people. We have lots planned to mark the occasion and will be sharing more details with you in the coming months, so watch this space!
Housing Regulation Changes
There have been lots of changes over the last year to reform how housing providers are regulated to improve standards and accountability to its residents.
The government has worked with their own Social Housing Quality Residents Panel so that residents living in social housing could influence the government and minister’s plans. Some of the main changes that have been introduced are:
- The new Social Housing (Regulation) Act 2023 became law, giving the Regulator of Social Housing and the Housing Ombudsman much more powers to drive up standards and hold landlords to account for the service they provide to their residents.
- The government introduced their Tenant Satisfaction Measures (TSM’s) which includes a standardised set of satisfaction survey questions for all social housing residents that must be collected and published every year. This is intended to help residents to compare the performance of their landlord with others. Housing providers have until April 2024 to publish their results; however, Housing 21 included these questions in this year’s annual resident’s survey and will shortly publish the results on the Housing 21 website.
In 2024, the Regulator of Social Housing will be introducing further changes; this will begin with them introducing a set of prescribed Consumer Standards that all landlords must be able to evidence how they meet. The Consumer Standards cover themes, such as safety and quality, transparency and influence, neighbourhood, community and tenancy management.
In order to assess how well landlords comply with the new Consumer Standards, the Regulator of Social Housing will also be introducing a new inspection regime for inspecting housing providers beginning in April 2024. Over the next few months, we will share some more information on this and how this impacts our residents.
Calling all residents – Nominate an outstanding contractor!
It’s that time of year again where we celebrate our fabulous contractors!
Is there a contractor who has gone ‘above and beyond’ at your scheme? If so, we want to hear about them!
We’d like to celebrate the many examples of times when our contractors have gone ‘above and beyond’ over the past year, to deliver quality services in resident homes and to create an opportunity to say ‘thank you’.
The survey will open on Tuesday 2 January 2024 and will remain open until 31 January 2024.
We would love to hear from you! To nominate an outstanding contractor, you can speak to your local manager who will be able to do submit a nomination on your behalf.
Once the survey closes, all contractors who have been nominated will receive a ‘Housing 21 Outstanding Contractor of the Year’ certificate in Spring 2024 on your behalf, as a token of appreciation for their hard work over the last financial year.
Get your finances in shape!
More than half of the UK make a New Year's resolution each year and taking steps to sort out their finances is often near the top of people's lists.
We know that this time of year can put pressure on finances, which can make it a difficult time for some, so over the next few months we’re going to be sharing useful resources, benefits and grants to support you in 2024.
If you want to find out more about the benefits and grants available to you, please speak to your local manager.
Have you heard of our Helping Hands Fund?
You can apply for a grant of up to £300 through our Helping Hands Fund. The quickest way to apply is via your local manager or the buddy manager if your manager is off. You can also email HelpingHands@housing21.org.uk for more information.
Here’s some feedback from a Local Housing Manager on behalf of their resident who was supported with a payment towards his energy debt:
“I have just been up to tell him how much Helping Hands have paid, and he can’t believe it. He wanted me to thank you so much for helping him, he didn’t realise you would be able to pay that much and was virtually in tears! This is going to make a massive difference to him and has taken a massive weight off his shoulders.”
If your application is approved, we usually offer vouchers or pay for items directly. We cannot reimburse for costs already paid, but if the costs are ongoing, we may be able to help.
Please note, that there are some eligibility requirements, for example, if you are in arrears on your rent or service charge account, you will need to set up a formal repayment plan with your local manager.
Celebrating our employees
Have you had a positive experience with one of our employees?
Perhaps they have supported you with claiming benefits, or generally gone above and beyond to support you?
If so, we would love to hear from you and to share your story to make sure our people are recognised for Making a Difference (MAD).
Changes to electricity meters using Radio Teleswitch (RTS) technology and how they affect households
The BBC radio service that supports Radio Teleswitch (RTS) meters is being phased out and is planned to end on 31 March 2024. If you have an electricity meter that switches between peak and off-peak tariff rates, such as an Economy seven or ten tariff, or automatically turns on your heating or hot water, you may have a meter that uses RTS technology.
If you do not know if you have an electricity RTS meter, you should contact your supplier.
If you have an electricity RTS meter
You should not lose your electricity supply or functionality before 31 March 2024. Your electricity supplier will contact you to arrange an upgrade to your meter and replace it with a smart meter. We expect them to manage this process before 31 March 2024, if you have any questions or concerns, please contact your supplier.
If you do not want a smart meter
You can choose not to upgrade to a smart meter; however, you may not have the same functionality as you have now, and you may also be limited with the choice of tariffs.
Energy suppliers are required to install smart meters as part of the UK government’s programme to replace older energy meters in homes and businesses across England, Wales and Scotland. You can find information about smart meters and the benefits of having one installed at www.smartenergygb.org.uk.
You should speak to your supplier to understand all the options available to you.
You can get advice about your energy supply from the Citizens Advice website www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/energy/energy-supply/
or contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133.
Listen to our podcast
Tune in to 21 Talks; a podcast showing that at every age, everyone has important stories to tell and opinions to share.
We have episodes on sustainability, the Extra Care Academy and inclusivity and financial wellbeing, featuring our wonderful Housing 21 employees and residents!
Have you listened to our latest episode on activities to positively impact your wellbeing?
Across Housing 21 we often talk about wellbeing and the importance of it, but what does it actually mean for residents living in our schemes?
Local Housing Manager Laura Gilling is passionate about the benefits physical activity can have on people’s wellbeing. In this episode of 21 Talks, she sits down with residents Zohra and Austin to find out what activities positively contribute to their wellbeing, as well as advice they’d give to other residents who are looking to try something new.
If you have an idea for a topic we could discuss in the next episode and would like to feature in our 21 Talks podcast, please contact the Communications Team.
Your feedback matters
Trustpilot is an independent website where you can review organisations and share your experience. We value your feedback and know that potential future residents want to know what it is like to live at a Housing 21 property. You can help with this by leaving a review on the Trustpilot website to let people know about your experience.
Pendant testing procedures
A reminder that all residents should now be testing their own pendant alarm once a month. This arrangement has the added benefit of helping residents to build confidence in using the equipment. Please ensure you test your pendant alarm from inside your accommodation, not in the communal areas.
New residents, during their tenancy sign-up, are informed that it is a resident’s responsibility to carry out a monthly pendant test. However, where a Scheme Manager believes a resident is unable to test their pendant, or they have no immediate family members to support them, they will carry out the test. If you have any queries or concerns about pendants / pendant testing, please contact your local manager.
Please don't forget to test your pendant alarm.
A monthly test is all it needs to ensure it is working effectively.
If you have any comments on this newsletter, please contact your Scheme Manager.
Community and Wellbeing Fund
The Community and Wellbeing Fund is accepting applications right now! The fund is available to start or further develop a project at your scheme to improve wellbeing and reduce social isolation through building connections with neighbours and the wider community.
There are three tiers of funding available, and your scheme could apply for anywhere up to £750 towards your project’s total cost.
To date, we have supported schemes with games and activities, exercise equipment, art materials, kitchen equipment for communal cooking, right through to garden remodels.
If you would like to know more about how your scheme can benefit, please speak with your local manager.
The Community and Wellbeing Fund is not available to leasehold schemes. If you have any questions or concerns about this, please speak to your local manager.