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    Following the Prime Minister's announcement on 4 January we set out here what you can expect from us over the coming weeks while we are in lockdown.

    Our priority remains to ensure your safety and that of our staff and contractors. The changes we already have in place mean we are confident we can safely continue to work and deliver most of our services. With these new tighter restrictions we have taken the decision to reduce the numbers of homes we visit each day to help limit contact.

    We will be prioritising emergency and urgent repairs and our building safety checks during the lockdown. This will mean a longer wait for routine repairs to be booked in.

    Thank you for your patience and understanding at this time.

    Our services

    The majority of our services will continue as normal during the lockdown, here's more detail about the services we're offering:

    • Repairs

      We will prioritise emergency and urgent repairs. We must also continue to carry out gas and electrical safety checks.

      We are legally responsible for ensuring that your home is safe and we are required to do these every year by law.
      We are confident that our staff are working safely. Please have a look at our video that sets out what we are doing and what we ask of residents to keep everyone safe.

      If you need to shield or have concerns about us being in your home please let us know so that we can provide reassurance or reschedule your appointment if necessary.

      If you are self-isolating, have tested positive for Covid-19 or are awaiting the results of a test, please let us know as soon as you can, either when you report your emergency or prior to our visit.

      This is our busiest time of year for emergency and urgent repairs - largely linked to the colder weather. This together with reducing the number of homes our staff visit each day will mean that we will not be able to carry out routine repairs as quickly as we would normally. If we have the capacity to undertake routine repairs, we will telephone you in advance and attend if it is safe and convenient for us to do so. This may mean that we contact you with little notice.

      We will continue to follow government guidelines and wear PPE when in your home. We'll also ask you to wear a mask while we're working in your home.

      Please make sure you watch this video about how to stay safe while work is carried out in your home.

      If you are self-isolating and need to cancel your appointment after 10am, you won't be charged. If we need to cancel your appointment after 10am we will not offer compensation. 

       

       

    • New build defects

      Developers are dealing with any defects that are an emergency.

      This means anything that risks life or major damage to your home such as a major leak, or problems with your electrics for example.

      While some developers are able to complete non-emergency defects, we are being advised that this is less likely until after the lockdown period is over.

      We know that many of you have been waiting some time for your defects to be rectified and that this is really frustrating, but we ask that you please be patient and as soon as we can, we will push for the defects to be remedied.

    • Rent and bills

      If you're experiencing financial difficulty due to coronavirus and worried about paying your rent, please talk to us. No one will lose their home because of Covid-19.

      We want to work with residents who are affected by the Covid-19 outbreak to support them through this difficult time.

      Over the next few months, our priorities will be to:

      • Offer support and guidance about what benefits you may be entitled to, and how to claim
      • Listen to what you can pay, and make appropriate payment plans with you
      • Offer budgeting advice and access to income and expenditure reviews
      • Agree for the housing cost part of your universal credit to be paid directly to us (if you receive this)
      • Support you if you're looking for work by helping you with your job search, including getting ready for applications and interviews
      • Signpost you to our partner organisations for further specialist advice on training and employment.

      We can also complete referrals to local food banks if you're struggling. Please contact our customer services team if you need help with this.

      Rent will still be charged, but we want to help you to manage your rent and other bills.

      You should continue to pay as normal if you:

      • Receive Universal Credit or Housing Benefit
      • Live in an Extra Care or Kent Excellent Homes for All scheme
      • Pay by direct debit (the rent-free weeks are calculated as part of your monthly payment).

      We can also offer support to help you find a job if you have lost yours – our training and employment pages have details of what we offer and how to contact us.

    • Communal areas

      We're asking all residents, visitors and delivery drivers to wear masks when in any communal area.

      This includes the entrances, hallways and lifts in blocks of flats. 

      You can remove your face covering as soon as you are inside your flat, or outside the building. 

    • Moving house

      We will continue to let our homes.

      Sign ups will be done virtually. Mutual Exchanges will also still take place but may take a little longer as we may need to prioritise other work.

    • Complaints

      We may ask you to wait longer than our usual timescales for a response to your complaint.

      Clearly with the pressure on all our customer facing services we have to decide what to prioritise. We will make every effort to respond to complaints, but we know we will not be able to meet our usual timescales.

    • Employment and training

      Our employment and training team are still be here to help.

      If you want help with CV writing, interview techniques or career advice please email westkentworks@wkha.org.uk

      If you're looking for work, we've added some links on our West Kent Works page.

    • Our offices

      Our Sevenoaks and Swanley offices are closed to the public. If you need to speak to us, you can contact us by email, phone or web chat.

    • Our over 55s schemes

      We ask that your family or friends follow the latest government guidance, and only visit if absolutely essential.

      If you are having items delivered, such as food, please ask for them to be left outside your flat door.

      The communal rooms, gyms and hairdressers in our older persons’ schemes will remain closed.

      The restaurants will continue to provide a delivery or takeaway service only. 

    • Abacus stores

      Our Abacus stores are closed.

      We are still selling our stock on the Abacus Furniture Project Facebook page, and can offer click and collect or doorstep deliveries.

    • Youth clubs

      Our face to face youth clubs are closed.

      We will continue with online sessions on 11 January 2021.

      We're waiting for further guidance on when face to face youth work, and we'll let attendees know when the clubs reopen.

    • West Kent Together

      West Kent Together will continue.

      We can link residents to internal and external support services; whether it’s needing food or medication delivered, employment support, money advice, or just someone to talk to.