Property Guardian Providers Association: The Coronavirus Crisis
To address the challenge of this highly contagious virus we must all work together, and everybody must be protected.
The members of the PGPA have been holding regular discussions with regards to the coronavirus crisis, and have been reviewing measures that would support and protect guardians who run into difficulties. In direct discussions with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, we can now confirm that Property Guardian license agreements can be used for the purposes of receiving housing costs support in Universal Credit. In regards to this, the PGPA members agreed the following:
i) It is of paramount importance that PGPA members work with their guardians to support them during the next three months of this crisis in both financial terms and with regards to their health and safety.
ii) It is important to remember too, that PGPA guardian companies employ hundreds of staff and that their protection, both with regards to employment and health, is also paramount.
iii) Guardians who, from the week beginning 16th March, can demonstrate that they have lost part or all of their income through the coronavirus crisis, and are unable to pay all or part of their monthly licence fees, will not be served notice to leave. This excludes circumstances where guardians seriously breach other areas of their license agreement such as violent behaviour or criminal acts, or when the building is no longer available for use as a guardian property (see paragraph x) below).
iv) Planned license fee increases for guardians for 1st April have been suspended for three months. (by providers who are PGPA members)
v) For guardians who can demonstrate they have lost part or all of their income through the virus crisis:
- those who are already in guardianship agreements with member companies, and then subsequently lose their income because of the coronavirus crisis, will be allowed to remain as guardians, if and when they begin claiming benefits (that is, the principle that benefits claimants cannot be guardians will be waived for current guardians). Furthermore, we are in discussion with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to clarify access to benefits for guardians.
- Guardians must prove they have sought benefits, and if they receive housing support would be expected to deploy that support to help cover their license fees.
- if there are those who are unable to access this additional support, the PGPA member will review with the guardian their fee arrangements on an individual basis. Options are being actively investigated to find ways that both support the guardians and maintain an income so that the guardian providers’ businesses can continue to operate.
vi) All PGPA members are currently communicating with their guardians at least weekly, keeping them up to date on the latest Government advice on the prevention of the spread of the virus. We urge guardians to follow and heed that advice. Stay at home. Help the NHS. Save Lives.
vii) Company staff will attempt to maintain regular inspections of the guardian properties but will be asked to keep a socially safe distance from guardians. They will continue to check fire escapes and all safety measures taken within the properties, including the clearways of the escape routes.
viii) The PGPA has introduced a Coordinated Partnership with a Primary Authority, who has conducted a series of fire and safety audits on members properties. We confirmed on 18th March with the Authority that these audits will continue during the coronavirus crisis unless government guidelines restrict their attendance. Only members of the PGPA are subject to these independent audits.
ix) Where guardians have already been given their notice to leave prior to the coronavirus pandemic, through having enacted serious breaches of their licence agreements, from long-term non-payment of fees through to unacceptable (eg violent) behaviour, these notices will not be suspended or halted.
x) Property guardian companies will always strive to find alternative accommodation for guardians, should their property be required for use to provide services pertaining to the crisis. But they cannot make any guarantees because only available and appropriate accommodation can provide alternatives, and if these are not available then there are no options to do so.
If you have any questions or you want to apply to these measures, please get in contact with your VPS contact person, call us on 020 8236 7688 or send us an e-mail to [email protected]. We will get back to you as soon as possible.