This update covers how we’re engaging with political stakeholders and the regulator, clarification we’re seeking on key and essential workers, and changes to the benefit system.
As we announced in our 20 March update, our lobbying and policy work in the coming days is centred around four key priorities.
We’ve worked with our new Coronavirus Rapid Response Group to publish a briefing that provides more detail on what these priorities mean and our urgent work on them.
We’re in regular contact with key government officials, ministers, sector partners and the regulator about these priorities – setting out how housing associations can work with the government to tackle this crisis, and what they need right now from the government to be able to do that.
We’re also working with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), and Treasury select committee chairs, and we’re in regular contact with officials in these departments.
Many of our members have been in touch to share the challenges they’re facing undertaking statutory safety checks given the restrictions caused by residents who are self-isolating. Housing associations are taking sensible risk-based decisions to prioritise the safety of both residents and staff.
We’re now in urgent conversations with the regulator and with MHCLG, pushing for clarity or new guidance to support this.
We’re also talking to the regulator about prioritising the most urgent regulatory returns to inform their response to the crisis, while recognising the pressure our members’ teams are facing at this time.
We will keep our members updated as these conversations progress.
We’re urgently seeking clarity from the government on two related issues:
We received information from DWP on 23 March that sets out changes to benefit entitlement. This includes an extra £20 per week from 6 April for people on Universal Credit. We welcome these changes and will continue to work with DWP to make sure that the benefits system protects people’s incomes. This work is set out in the briefing mentioned above.
The information we received stresses the need for DWP to focus on dealing with new claims and getting money to people on time.
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