Rents are increasing. FAQs, support and how we'll re-invest this money | Connexus

Rents are increasing. FAQs, support and how we'll re-invest this money

3rd March, 2021
vbolton
Community
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Houses from above

Earlier this month, we joined the Together With Tenants housing charter and pledged to involve our customers at the heart of everything we do. With our rents increasing by 1.6%, and a desire to always be customer-focused, we want you to know more about how we reinvest this money.

First, the key facts our rent increases:

  • Our Board has decided that rents will be increased on 5th April 2021 by a maximum of 1.6%. You will have already received a letter detailing this.
  • This decision takes into account that our costs are always rising at least by inflation
  • Decisions on our rents are impacted by a Government formula, aiming to bring all social and affordable rents in an area into line.
  • This formula takes into account the equivalent private market rent in the area. We will never charge you more than 80% of what the private rented cost of your home would be. 

Firstly, it’s important to note that Connexus is a not-for-profit Housing Association. But what does that actually mean? Well, it means we were set up with the purpose of providing affordable homes and supporting local communities (in our case, communities throughout Herefordshire and Shropshire). We don’t make profit for shareholders but invest all of our income we make into delivering on this purpose.

And how do we do that?

FAQs

Can I see a breakdown of my service charge?

Service charges are calculated to recover what we expect the services to cost over the coming year. If you pay a service charge, a breakdown has been supplied. If you pay variable service charges your annual statement will be provided separately.

 

Grounds maintenance, what will happen?

Connexus suspended the grounds maintenance and estate caretaking service between 23rd March and 18th May 2020. Your service charge for 2021/22 has been amended to reflect this loss of service.

 

I'm not happy with the standard of services provided – what should I do?

If you think they are not being completed to an acceptable standard, contact us here.

 

I receive Housing Benefit. What do I need to do?

If you have your benefit paid directly to us, then we will let the Council know what your new weekly charge will be. If you have the benefit paid directly to you then you will need to contact them to give them the details of your new charges. The Council will then tell you what your new entitlement is going to be. Any changes will affect the amount you will need to pay towards your rent. If you are unsure about what to pay at any time, please contact the Council's Housing Services Team.

 

What if I’m getting help to pay my rent through Universal Credit?

It is your responsibility to notify the DWP of changes to the amount of rent you have to pay. You need to do this via your online journal but this cannot be done until Monday 5th April 2021 and failure to do this may mean you miss out on extra help with your rent.

 

I pay by Direct Debit. How much will I have to pay?

If you pay by direct debit then we will calculate the new amounts and tell you what these are in the next few weeks.

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Connexus stock - Rocks Green houses

Investing in existing homes

This year, Connexus has committed to making our largest ever annual investment into improving existing properties. We’ll spend £13 million on improving the quality of some of the 10,500 properties we manage.
  • As well as carrying out regular routine improvements to homes, such as replacing bathrooms and kitchens, this money goes towards larger investment programmes, including our Warmer Homes drive to improve the energy efficiency of 132 homes.
  • We’re determined to fight the effects of fuel poverty by making the right long-term investments into homes so that your energy bills stay lower, and your quality of life is always improving.
  • This £13m is on top of the £4.5m we expect to spend on routine repairs next year, making sure that we deliver on our promise of providing high-quality, affordable homes.
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Oak Meadow, Bishops Castle, Shropshire

Building new homes

We work with Local Authorities in Herefordshire and Shropshire to respond to the specific housing needs of communities, making sure we invest in the right way for each town or village.
  • We’ve completed the construction of 154 new homes in 2020-21 and this figure is expected to grow to 190 homes by the end of March.
  • Connexus understands that one size doesn’t fit all, and so we build a mixture of properties, with Shared Ownership and rent-to-buy available in addition to affordable rent, giving tenants an opportunity to get onto the housing ladder (should they want to).
  • At a time when private rents and house costs are spiralling, investment into new homes in the rural areas that we operate is vital in order to sustain these communities in the long-term.
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Support services - Ludlow foyer - playing jenga

Support services for all ages

Connexus is proud to invest money into running our support services, providing housing and support for a wide variety of needs.
  • Our Independent Living Schemes are designed for older customers and help them to enjoy their home environment for as long as possible by having our specially trained Independent Living staff on-site throughout the week.
  • The Ludlow Foyer and Bath Street services (in Ludlow and Hereford respectively) are aimed at young people who need help with a fresh start in life, providing somewhere to stable to live and the opportunity to move forward through employment or educational training.
  • And the Shropshire Domestic Abuse Service is an ever-important service to support victims of domestic abuse (an issue we recently covered on our website).
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Ludlow Cricket Club Under 11s, Ludlow Cricket Club has been supported by the Connexus Community Development Fund.

Supporting local communities

Connexus has always strived to be more than a landlord, by supporting local communities.
  • The most direct form of this community support is our Community Development Fund (CDF).
  • The CDF offers grants of up to £5,000 to local community projects – including food banks, sensory gardens, cricket clubs…and everything in between!
  • Last year we donated over £40,000 to local community projects: reinvesting in, supporting and engaging with your communities.

Worried about your finances? We're here to help.

Want to know more?

Of course, this article is only a brief summary of some of the ways in which we reinvest money into communities. Connexus actively wants customers to become involved in what we do, holding us to account and scrutiny so that we provide the best quality services that our customers really need. You can have your voice heard, telling us what we're doing well...and not so well, and helping us to improve and invest wisely. If this sounds like something you'd like to be involved in, then head over to our Customer Involvement page