Thursday 7th January 2021
As you know, the Prime Minister has this week raised the COVID-19 threat level to the highest possible and introduced new lockdown restrictions. Their aim is to control infection rates to protect the NHS and save lives.
I know this will be an anxious time for you and your family members. However, in light of the revised Government guidance, I want to remind you of the actions we are taking to continue to support you during this time and to ensure your safety and that of our staff and supply chain partners.
Our focus will remain on providing the full range of accommodation services. However, given that the new COVID-19 variant is rapidly pushing up infection rates, it is possible that, over time, our ability to deliver those services may be affected; and in all cases we will need to follow the legal requirements of the UK Government and devolved administrations as appropriate to your location.
We will continue to monitor the situation across the UK regularly and keep you updated through your Chain of Command and the Families Federations. However, it may well be we have to make some hard decisions about the services we can continue to provide. Given the differing guidance in place for England and the Devolved Administrations, and the unpredictability of the spread of the virus, our response is likely to vary from region to region but works to ensure the safety and habitability of properties will always remain a priority.
To help mitigate such potential impact as much as possible and to ease pressure on the helpdesk and operational staff, I would ask you to consider delaying any non-urgent requests for work until the current arrangements are relaxed by Government. In doing so, you would help to ensure that families with urgent needs can be supported as quickly as possible. However, should you feel you need to contact either Amey or Mears’ helpdesks on a non-urgent matter/repair, then please use emails or webforms. Advice on contacting Amey can be found on the Amey website, and Mears can be contacted via 0800 032 4547 or by emailing [email protected].
I appreciate there were some problems and delays in contacting Amey just prior to and over the Christmas period and understand how frustrating this must have been for some families. However, their IT issues have now been resolved, and the Helpdesk has returned to full operating capability.
In the meantime, the following procedures will apply to protect your well-being and that of our staff and supply chain partners, and to ensure we all play our part in preventing the further spread of the virus:
- Customer Service Advisors for Amey, Mears and other providers will continue to ask callers if they, or anyone living at their property, has or may have the virus and/or is undergoing a period of self-isolation.
- Should an appointment be arranged, please notify us immediately if any household members are subsequently required to self-isolate so we can ensure operatives do not visit your SFA. Appointments will be rescheduled as soon as the period of self-isolation is over.
- Industry partner personnel attending appointments will still call ahead to ask occupants if they, or anyone living at the property has or may have the virus, and/or is undergoing a period of self-isolation.
- Industry partners attending appointments in your home will apply Covid Safe working practices and maintain social distancing protocols in line with the latest Government guidelines.
- Where occupants are self-isolating, operatives will not enter a property to undertake planned or non-critical reactive maintenance or Move In/Out tasks for a period of 10 days from the first day symptoms started or until such time it is confirmed that there is no longer a risk.
- Where occupants are self-isolating, operatives will attempt to resolve critical tasks with occupants over the telephone. If resolution is not practical, Regional DIO/Amey/Mears teams will seek to identify alternative temporary accommodation.
- Improvement and Project works will continue in accordance with Government Guidelines. In the same way as for planned or reactive maintenance works, where operatives have to enter your home they will ask families to vacate the room they need to work in, wear face masks, wash or hand sanitise their hands prior to entry and maintain social distancing at all times.
We are in the process of reviewing our previous guidance to ensure it reflects the new circumstances. Please do keep checking Gov.uk as all the latest SFA guidance is there, and we will be updating those pages as appropriate.
I am grateful for your support and understanding as we navigate through this difficult period. Again, I understand this is a very difficult time for Service personnel and their families and I wish to assure you that the safety of you and our staff is our priority.
Air Commodore James Savage, Head of DIO Accommodation