New tradesman announcement ‘no material change’ for housing service providers

The First Minister’s announcement this week that the current guidance regarding only carrying out essential works in homes would become law does not represent any material change for housing service providers, the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) has confirmed.

New tradesman announcement 'no material change' for housing service providers

In a statement to the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday, Ms Sturgeon strengthened the provisions in relation to work inside people’s houses to help reduce the number of coronavirus cases.

She said: “We have already issued guidance to the effect that in level 4 areas work is only permitted within a private dwelling if it is essential for the upkeep, maintenance and functioning of the household. We will now put this guidance into law.”

The SFHA said it has spoken to Scottish Government officials following the announcement and can confirm that, given this is already the basis for the current Social Housing Resilience Group (SHRG) guidance on managing services, the announcement does not represent any material change for housing service providers, but it does underline the importance of adhering to the guidance as well as the value of all of the measures being undertaken throughout the sector. 

As set out in current Scottish Government guidance only essential works for minimum standards of habitability, safety and maintenance (i.e., to prevent significant problems developing) should be carried out in people’s homes at this time. Where work is required to take place within a home, all precautions should be taken to ensure this does not put tenants and your staff at risk of Covid-19.  

Emergency repairs, safety checks and essential maintenance of occupied and unoccupied properties will continue to be compliant. The stay at home guidance has a specific section on ‘Tradespeople, home repairs, and working in someone else’s home’ which sets out that essential works can continue with appropriate safeguards. Home moves continue to be permitted, and associated activity in support of house moves should continue as part of essential housing services, including within people’s homes (where this is unavoidable). 

All housing and service providers should be considering how to continue essential services in a way that is both Covid safe and meets the essential needs of tenants. Local risk assessment and exercising judgement on a case-by-case basis will continue to be crucial in ensuring essential services are provided to keep households and staff safe. 

Last week, the SHRG updated its Covid-19 guidance for social landlords (Guide to Managing Services, previously the Guide to Restarting Services) and this still stands. 

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