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Cost of living support

Advice and support to help manage the rising cost of living.

Housing News

Here you can read the latest edition of Housing News, the council's magazine for tenants.

Housing News is a regular magazine packed with useful information for tenants. If you have any ideas or suggestions for its content, email tenants@uttlesford.gov.uk.
 

Housing News Summer 2023
In the summer 2023 edition ...

In this issue we have the return of the garden competition, an update on our repairs and maintenance service and the latest dates for the multi-agency roadshow. There's also a feature introducing all the members of our Housing Team.

Contents

- Introduction

- Cost of living support scheme

- Update on new housing developments

- Meet your housing team

Multi-agency roadshow events

- Improvements and changes to your repairs service

- Safer homes - our priority

- Annual garden competition

 

Introduction

In this issue, I am excited to announce that the garden competition has finally returned!

I would encourage all those regular entrants to enter again this year, plus new tenants and leaseholders who have never given it a whirl. It is such a fantastic experience seeing all the amazing flowers and plants and the enthusiasm of the many green­fingered folk I feel very privileged to visit.

Also in this edition, we want to bring your attention to our multi­agency roadshow which is out and about and full of useful information from our housing team as well as a number of partner agencies. If you are having difficulties with the cost of living, please also visit our cost of living section of the website which is a source of lots of helpful information.

We will also look at how we are helping to keep your home safe and the changes to our staff including a new contracts manager who is being employed to oversee the work of our repairs partner, Uttlesford Norse.

I would like to wish you all a very happy and healthy summer.

Nicole
Nicole Shephard­Lewis Tenant Liaison Officer
 

Cost of living support scheme

Uttlesford District Council is aware that the ongoing cost­of­living crisis is  causing hardship to residents who aren't able to improve their  circumstances in the short term.

If you or someone you know is struggling to pay their Council Tax bill there is a new financial assistance scheme to help for the 2023 financial year.

We hope that by providing assistance with your Council Tax bill it will free up funds for your priority bills and outgoings that have increased.

Applications for help from the Fund can be made online through our Cost of living support fund.

Customers who do not have online access can attend the Council Offices in Saffron Walden, or contact us on 01799 510510, for support from our Customer Service Centre.

If you are worried about money, getting into debt or your mental health is suffering don't wait to get help, there is a variety of support available to you.
 

Update on new housing developments

Our housing development team are always working on new projects. A number of projects have recently been completed or will soon be available for those households on the council's Housing Register.

Here's a brief update on current schemes.

Knights Park Saffron Walden

We're delighted that our 14 new­build homes have recently completed and to see new tenants move in.

The scheme consists of seven one­bed flats, three two­bed flats, two three­bed townhouses and two detached three­bed houses, all being let at affordable rent.

Each new home has an air source heat pump, allocated parking space, driveway or car port, electric vehicle charging point and innovative fire suppression system. The flats also have a balcony or patio.

Walden Place

The development at Walden Place is now in full swing and works will be finished early next year. The programme includes the separation of the main house from the 1980s extension as well as the addition of a purpose­built communal space, complete with conservatory.

The project is completed with two new homes, a mobility scooter store, and a new boiler house. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all the current residents for their patience and understanding during the works.

The Mead Thaxted

We've been given planning approval to demolish two semi­detached bungalows, which have structural problems, and to replace these with a two­bedroom wheelchair accessible bungalow. The new property will have underfloor heating and air source heat pump.

Tye Green Wimbish

Planning approval is in place to turn a garden reduction site into a new four­bed house.

Alexia House and Parkside

Planning approval is being sought at Parkside to demolish the current not fit­for­purpose sheltered accommodation and replace with 24 new apartments for households aged 60 and over. It's a similar situation at Alexia House although plans have not yet been submitted.

Beech Close Takeley

Plans are being worked up for the demolition of the vacant Takeley Day Centre and the garage site at Beech Close, and to construct new council homes plus replace as many of the garages as possible at the nearby garage site in North Road.
 

Meet your housing team

Your housing management team has undergone some changes since they were last featured in Housing News.

Rebecca Flowers ­

Housing Management Team Leader

Rebecca oversees the day to day running of the housing management team as well as dealing with some more complex issues.

Donna Baldry ­

Housing Officer.

Donna covers Stansted, Takeley, Hatfield Heath and surrounding areas.

Emma Brown ­

Housing Officer.

Emma covers the northern part of the district which includes Saffron Walden, Thaxted and the surrounding villages.

Gina Holt ­ 

Housing Officer.

Gina covers Dunmow and the surrounding villages.

Lisa Higgon ­

Housing Officer.

Lisa deals with disabled adaptations, complaints and performance monitoring as well as providing support for the rest of the team.

Justine Richards ­

Housing Officer.

Justine manages the introductory tenancies.

Claire Maidstone ­

Homeownership Officer.

Claire processes Right to Buy requests, liaises with leaseholders and manages the garage and allotment lettings.

Jane Hurst ­

Tenancy Sustainment Officer.

Jane can work with tenants who require additional support to maintain their tenancy.

Sharon Ilott ­

Housing Admin Assistant.

Sharon provides administrative support for the team as well as being the first point of contact for tenant enquiries.

The services that you can expect from your housing team are back to what they were before the pandemic.

Please do not hesitate to contact the team if you would like help or advice with the following things:

  • Moving home
  • Adapting your house or moving if it is no longer suitable for your needs due to disability or age
  • Carrying out a mutual exchange
  • Paying your rent
  • Making alterations or improvements to your council property
  • Buying your home
  • Renting a garage or allotment
  • Antisocial behaviour problems
  • A council property is abandoned or sublet
  • Communal areas not being well maintained

We are carrying out home visits again but if you would prefer to come to the office and see someone, please remember to book an appointment as we operate a hybrid working system so there is not always someone in the office. We would hate for you to have a wasted journey.
 

Multi-agency roadshow events

The multi­agency roadshow events have already started with recent visits to Ashdon and Birchanger.

We enjoyed meeting all the residents and are looking forward to seeing even more of you at our next events.

At each event there are a number of different agencies including Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, Uttlesford Foodbank, United in Kind, Essex Police, Peabody, Active Essex, Community Agents, Spangles Family hub, Uttlesford Community Action Network and Neighbourhood Watch.

From Uttlesford District Council, there are officers on hand who can give information on benefits, housing and communities, as well as members of the tenant and leaseholder panel, plus not forgetting our most popular person our  handyman, who is ready to help with those small jobs.

The cost of living is an issue for many at the moment, so why not come along and have a chat with us? We may have some advice or information that might help.

Roadshow timetable

Find the dates for the trailer in 2023.
 

Improvements and changes to your repairs service

Our priority is always to keep your home in a good and safe condition.

We are pleased to report an improvement in our performance in the health and safety checks carried out to your home.

The Regulator of Social Housing is happy with all the progress made in this area after we referred ourselves to them last August, and has confirmed the council is not in breach of its Home Standard.

We have also carried out a stock condition survey, so we can build a new investment programme to maintain all of our homes in the best possible condition over the coming years.

Further big changes are on their way as we aim to improve your experience as a tenant of Uttlesford District Council.

We are setting up a new team to oversee the services being supplied by our joint­venture partner, Uttlesford Norse Services. The new team will be led by a Repairs and Maintenance Contract Manager.

We will have our own qualified surveyors specialising in health and safety, damp and mould and planned improvements to your home. We will also be employing our own clerk of works to support Uttlesford Norse by carrying out inspections of your home, before and after works are carried out, or when you have concerns about the quality of work carried out. We will also have a specialist administrator to support the team.

In the meantime, we have recently appointed a new Interim Repairs and Maintenance Contract Manager.

Shaun Naidoo brings a wealth of experience and will be out and about meeting tenants to learn more about how we can improve services for you.

As a landlord we know how very important our customer's input is to improving services, so if you have a passion for repairs and maintenance or are interested generally in sharing your views and opinions please get in touch.

This summer we will be asking our tenants about how we can improve their experience of the repairs and maintenance service.

We hope you will help us by sharing your thoughts and giving us ideas on how we can do things better.

You can find out more how to get involved with housiing.
 

Safer homes - our priority

To ensure our tenants' homes are safe, we arrange specialist contractors to complete property compliance assessments. The 'big six' areas of compliance are gas, electric, fire, asbestos management, water hygiene and lifts.

Changes to legislation have also led to a more pro­active approach to tackling issues with damp and mould.

We want to ensure the health and wellbeing of our tenants is not impacted by living with damp and mould, so we have set up a programme of work to address these issues promptly and effectively.

In addition, we are also making sure our tenants are being protected against carbon monoxide poisoning, by checking that detectors are working and are located in the best position within the home.

Annual gas servicing and safety checks ­

99% of our homes have an up­to­date gas safety certificate.

Electrical safety inspections ­

99% of our homes have an up­to­date electrical safety certificate, within the legal 10­year timescale and 92% within our best practice five­year target.

Water hygiene ­

100% of our flat blocks with communal water tanks have an up­to­date Legionella assessment.

Asbestos ­

80% of our communal areas have an up­to­date asbestos survey and work is underway to complete the outstanding surveys.

Lift safety ­

100% of our lifts have been inspected and serviced.

Fire safety ­

100% of our flat blocks have an up­to­date fire risk assessment.

Damp and mould ­

all our known cases are recorded and surveys are underway to identify the cause of the damp and mould and recommended works are being programmed. We have brought more specialist companies on board to carry out the surveys. Mould washes are being undertaken to remove mould whilst longer term actions are being planned. Visits will take place by the Housing Management team to support tenants in helping to reduce the risk of mould and condensation in their homes.

Please let us know straight away if you have concerns about damp and mould in your home. Find out more about managing damp and mould.

Carbon Monoxide and smoke detector alarms ­

Our heating engineers share information with us on where these alarms are located in tenants' homes.

Where our stock condition surveys have identified any issues, these are being put on a programme for further inspection or replacement.

Please help us by allowing access for safety inspections and to carry out repairs

We're working hard to get into homes to carry out inspections where safety certificates have expired. It is really important that you allow access for the inspections when you receive an appointment from our contractors. It is a legal requirement to carry out these inspections and it is also an obligation for tenants under the tenancy agreement.

Where we need to take further action, including through our lawyers where required, we may make a charge to the tenants concerned.

If you have concerns about any aspect of safety in your home or communal areas, please contact the team by email repairs@uttlesfordnorse.co.uk or call 01799 510510 ­ press 5 for Housing Services and then press 2 for Uttlesford Norse.
 

Annual garden competition

The annual Tenant and Leaseholder Garden Competition is back!

Once again, we've got four classes for you to enter ­ so whether you have a beautifully maintained lawn or borders, or confine your gardening to tubs and baskets or a few plant pots on the windowsill, there is something for you.

Classes

The classes are:

  • Class 1 ­ Best Garden ­ - £50 voucher
     
  • Class 2 ­ Best Hanging Basket, Tub or Pot ­ - £50 voucher
     
  • Class 3 ­ Tallest Sunflower ­ - £50 voucher
     
  • Class 4 ­ Best Communal Garden ­ - £100 voucher

Judging will take place in early August for the Best Garden, Best Hanging Basket, Tub or Pot, and Best Communal Garden. The measuring for the Tallest Sunflower will happen in late August ­ however, please make sure to submit all of your entries by 14 July.

Every entrant will be visited as part of the judging process and prizes totalling £250 will be given out to the winners. The competition is open to all UDC tenants and leaseholders.

What have you got to lose? Get in your entry and please don't forget that you can nominate a neighbour!

Good luck!