Housing providers ‘may’ face staffing pressures this year, RSH says

Social Housing (Demo)

Housing providers have started to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic but are likely to face staffing pressures later this year, a new Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) survey has found.

The RSH’s third monthly coronavirus operational response survey (CORS) found that providers are continuing to deliver their services adequately, as urgent repairs are being completed, health and safety checks are being rescheduled and repair backlogs are stable.

However, providers have expressed concern about their ability to keep capacity levels up later in the year, as staff take postponed leave or take time off due to overwork.

“Some providers report that staff have cancelled leave and worked longer hours to cover absences, and that there may be staffing pressures later in the year as a result,” the report said.

“Providers continue to maintain adequate stocks of personal protective equipment (PPE), but some continue to report concerns about future access and costs.”

The RSH reported a 99% response rate to its survey, which was sent to all registered providers with over 1,000 homes, local authority social landlords, and smaller landlords with a high proportion of supported accommodation.

It found that demand for repairs is now rising but remains 15% to 30% lower than usual, leading the RSH to warn that ‘providers may see higher demand for repairs in the future’.

This has led some providers to encourage tenants to report non-emergency repairs to help them make plans to address their backlogs.

Providers also reported that restricted access is affecting their ability to carry out health and safety checks, which the survey predicts will ease once the government eases shielding measures.

However, despite more tests being available and risk assessments being completed, providers are still concerned about the health and safety of their care and support staff, the RSH said.

The survey also revealed continued pressure on gas safety check compliance as the number of properties with expiring gas safety certificates is increasing.

While over 99% of providers are still reporting gas safety check compliance, a slightly higher number of providers say they are completing most, rather than all, gas safety checks, largely due to ongoing challenges with accessing properties.

Fiona MacGregor, chief executive of the RSH, said: “We are pleased that housing associations and local authorities are able to report continuing stable service delivery for tenants and further progress towards recovery.

“We recognise that some operational challenges still remain and will continue to monitor the situation through these surveys for the time being.”

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