Housing staff thanked for their work during Covid-19
Members of The Highland Council’s Housing and Property Committee have praised and thanked staff for their work in continuing to provide priority housing services during the Covid-19 emergency.
Chair Councillor Ben Thompson particularly highlighted the work undertaken to balance staff and client safety with service demands. He said: “The emergency affected every area of housing services delivery and impacted on every one of our 14,000 tenants and other housing customers. The nature of the day-to-day work is very much based on face-to-face contact with tenants, especially vulnerable clients. Staff had to react quickly and make changes to the way services could be safely and effectively delivered at very short notice.”
Over the first few weeks of lockdown the tenant participation team made direct contact by phone with 3,264 tenants, emailed a further 3,973 and stayed in touch via text messages with 6,858. An on-line survey was also set up so that the welfare needs of tenants could be captured and anyone requiring support or assistance was referred to their local Community Hub.
As well as supporting welfare, the housing staff have been continuing to deal with complaints and other tenancy matters. Although routine home visits were not possible during lockdown, staff continued to follow up issues through other channels. Tenants living in sheltered accommodation have been able to use a Help Call system to replace personal visits and increased cleaning regimes for common areas were introduced and are still in place.
Cllr Thompson said: “Despite the exceptional circumstances over the last 5 months, the performance report presented to our Committee earlier today reflects all the great proactive work that has been done. I would like to officially recognise this huge effort by all our staff and sincerely thank them for their professional approach and determination to make sure people received the support they need.
“Staff have had to prioritise emergency work, but the figures show a high level of performance in the average time taken to complete repairs in the first quarter of 2020/21. Although the number of relets was down in the quarter, the repairs team managed to continue to undertake reletting repairs on a targeted basis during the emergency.”
He added: “The hard work continues as we move into the recovery phase as undoubtably there will be extra pressure on the service to address a backlog of needs, such as non-emergency repairs, allocations, development work on rent arrears and homelessness. However, with the resourcefulness and dedication of all the staff we have, I am sure they will rise to this challenge.”