Latest News about the Virus Crisis

News Spot: April 8th

PGPA Member Ad Hoc Property have found 23 guardians new accommodation after a former care home was required to provide a temporary emergency facility 

 

Full story here 

Important Announcement: We have heard reports of a local authority believing property guardians are not eligible to claim Universal Credit (UC) to enable them to receive housing benefit. This is not true. The PGPA have had direct discussions with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, and they have confirmed with us (in liaison with the Department of Works and Pensions), that property guardians will be treated in the same way  as tenants in the private rental sector, with regards to UC applications.  If your guardian company is a member of the PGPA they will already have that confirmation, and can help you inform the local authority, if they (incorrectly) believe guardians are ineligible. 

Mental Health Tips and Resources for coping with the crisis - 

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of online keep-fit resources, from Joe Wick's excellent Body Coach series on YouTube  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAxW1XT0iEJo0TYlRfn6rYQ​ through to Lisa Hawkins at FitnessHub21 - brilliantly 'militant' in the demands she makes of you, but she tempers that by also giving a wealth of motivational tips and great recipes! https://www.facebook.com/fitnesshub21/videos/838361156676897/?t=53

However - much less publicised (but many would argue equally important if not more so) are resources for keeping mentally well also. Here the Open University have a great tips and resources page that will help keep you from being brought down from the grim crisis around us. https://www.open.edu/openlearn/health-sports-psychology/mental-health/free-mental-health-tips-and-resources from dealing with digital-related stress, through to taking a journey on well being. 

 

PGPA Members receive exclusive Primary Authority advice on how to meet and maintain safety regulations within government guidelines

Safety and fire legislation and responsibilities aren’t relaxed at this time of crisis, and so it is still as important as ever to maintain systems and manage statutory obligations. PGPA member companies have received extensive and thorough advice on safety measures that fit the need to contain risk (which could be higher with people staying indoors far more) with the health requirements around COVID 19. Our members have also been in discussions with guardians, and so where possible, weekly inspections have been changed to fortnightly, or monthly. Some properties will have inspections and assessments by a video call and virtual tour with the head guardian.  

Companies are also keeping a log of anyone self-isolating and our inspectors are kept notified. It’s a delicate balance, and we appreciate the support from the primary authority and guardians alike.  

We spotted this in the London Evening Standard 

Tony, a musician, is a property guardian in east London, in a large building where 20 other people also live. They share three bathrooms and two kitchens and the building has two separate entrances and staircases. When one of the guardians showed Covid-19 symptoms, the residents used their home WhatsApp group to put a coping strategy in place. “One of my housemates, a health professional, said the best way to avoid spreading it would be if people with symptoms used one designated bathroom and kitchen and avoided the common areas, which seemed sensible but a few people have been ignoring the rule,” claims Tony, 28. 

We saw this advice from journalist Emma Barnett about a similar situation.

 

Under lockdown, all residents are in this together on a tight ship and need to figure out how to get along — not stoke the fires of division. 

If someone isn’t playing ball, why not ask them if they are OK? Chances are, it isn’t personal. It rarely is. I bet they are lonely, possibly shy, and finds any hostile environment they may have unwittingly created difficult to back out of. Offer them a route out, without judgementWorst case, if they are still causing problems, have it out with them. Not Big Brother style, but with the goal of making it through the lockdown. Surely, at a time of national crisis, they can also access their bigger self and the kindest one too. If not, it might be time (to bring in the guardian company, who will expect all guardians to respect each other). Be kind, compassionate and empathetic, and it should be reflected back at you.

News spot: April 14th

PGPA member VPS Guardians has  worked with Warwickshire Council and the NHS to help convert part of a property guardian site into a testing centre during the crisis. The Pears Centre has been secured by guardians since it was closed, awaiting redevelopment for new use.

The three organisations have worked together to review a risk assessment and create a secure access with distance between the area the guardians occupy and the testing facility, set up in what was formally a car park. VPS then discussed the facility with the guardians and gave them the option to move, but all were happy to stay.

Nick Ferrari on LBC referred to the test facility last week on his radio show.

All PGPA's members have been in direct contact with LA's or the NHS to offer properties that could be of help.

10/04/20 PGPA member Live-in Guardians has offered a range of properties it manages for guardianship but currently vacant that have available rooms for NHS workers. They sent details to the NHS organisation coordinating accommodation a fortnight ago, comprising almost 100 rooms, flats and houses, mostly across London, including some just minutes from main hospitals.   

PGPA confirm with Government guardians can claim benefits                                                                                                24/03/20

Following discussions with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, they have confirmed with the Department of Work and Pensions, in a direct communication with the PGPA, that Property Guardian license agreements will have the same status as valid tenancy arrangements for the purposes of receiving housing costs support in Universal Credit. This follows the PGPA members decision to waive the principle that people claiming benefits cannot be guardians for people who are currently in guardianship programmes but subsequently lose their income through the coronavirus crisis. This recognises that license agreements and fees are neither tenancy agreements or rents, and so required a widening of the scope of the emergency measures to support guardians.   

Government confirms with the PGPA the correct option to select when applying for housing benefit with Universal Credit during the Covid-19 emergency measures

06/04/20 There is no specific property guardian/licensee option in the online application process for housing benefit, so the PGPA requested confirmation from the MHCLG - they have agreed that guardians may use the 'Private Landlord' option. 

Government recommend guardian companies follow PGPA members' lead                                                                  23/03/20   

"We have held discussions with the Property Guardians Providers Association and understand that they are following the same guidance for their Property Guardians. We will be encouraging other companies to follow this positive and responsible example and not evict people who are facing financial hardship because of COVID 19"   

                                              Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government

PGPA Members offer available space for health workers and others 

Members have highlighted to the government that they have spaces available that could be used for health workers and other key workers - for example,  20 spaces a few minutes walk from the Royal Free Hospital, North London, 25 two bed flats by Mill Hill East Tube station, 400 bed accommodation in Birmingham.