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CHS Network Newsletter – Summer 2022 Edition

Help with the Cost of Living Crisis

5 steps to getting money help in Cambridgeshire 

If you need any help or advice with your rent account or if you are worried about a change in circumstances due to loss of earnings, please contact us. We can also assist with income maximisation and tenancy sustainment issues. For personal help from our Money Matters team please email 

If you are worried about money, please use our Money Help in Cambridgeshire Guide to help you. The sooner you take action, the better and we can help you to work through all these suggested actions. 

Energy Support available in Cambridgeshire

We have also put together this Energy Support guide which offers some practical support that may help you prepare and manage your electricity and gas bill as we head into Autumn.

In this issue

  1. Help with the Cost of Living Crisis
  2. Keep your gas prepayment meter topped up
  3. Safe spaces – Domestic Abuse support
  4. Right to buy
  5. Looking for work

      Additional Articles

  1. Have your say
  2. Residents celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee
  3. Worried about a neighbour?
  4. Tpas Conference
  5. Promoting Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI)
  6. Gasway continuous improvement
  7. Garden competition
  8. Carbon monoxide the silent killer
  9. Customer satisfaction survey
  10. Keep communal areas clear
  11. The Social Housing Regulation Bill
  12. Regulators in-depth assessment
  13. Shared Ownership bungalows – Cheveley
  14. New Board members
  15. Updates from our schemes

You can also read this Network Newsletter edition on this downloadable PDF

Keep your gas prepayment meter topped up, even if you’re not using any gas as you’ll pay a daily fee

As well as paying for the gas and electricity you use, you pay a daily fee for being connected – known as a standing charge. You pay this with a normal meter too, but when you’re on prepayment you need to have credit to pay it – even on days when you don’t use any gas or electricity.

You still have to pay the daily standing charge even if you don’t have any credit on your meter. When you next top up, you’ll have to pay back all the standing charges that you owe.  The amount of the standing charge depends on where you live and what tariff and supplier you have.

Jacintha’s story

Jacintha has gas central heating, which she switched off last summer. She didn’t top up her gas meter because she wasn’t using any gas. The meter still took 28p a day for the standing charge, so she soon ran out of credit. The standing charges built up until Jacintha decided to add some credit because she wanted to switch her heating back on.

By this time Jacintha owed £17.64 in standing charges. When she topped up by £20 the meter took what she owed and she only had £2.36 left. This meant she had to top up again the next day.

Gas Safety Check

The annual gas safety check is a legal requirement and it is to keep you safe. If you have a pre-payment energy meter, please be aware that for Gasway to do the gas safety check, there needs to be credit on the meter so that the engineer can check the system is working. If they can’t ensure it’s safe, then they will cap the gas. This means you won’t be able to use the heating and hot water until you have topped up the meter and Gasway have attended a second time to uncap the gas and check the system.

Safe Space

UK SAYS NO MORE (a national campaign to end domestic abuse and sexual violence) is working with Boots, Morrisons pharmacies, Superdrug pharmacies, Well pharmacies, independent pharmacies, HSBC and TSB banks across the UK to provide Safe Spaces in their consultation rooms for people experiencing domestic abuse. You can use a Safe Space in whichever way works for you. They provide a safe and discrete way to reach out to friends and family, and contact specialist support services. 

How to access a Safe Space 

  •          Walk into any participating Safe Space in the UK
  •          Ask a member of staff at the counter to use their Safe Space
  •          You will be shown to the Safe Space which will be a private room
  •          Once inside you can use the Safe Space in whichever way works for you. They provide a safe and discrete way to reach out to friends and family, contact specialist support services and start your journey to recovery.

Safe Spaces are open and ready for you to use. Just click on the link below to locate spaces in the area you need it. 

Do you feel safe in your home?  

Domestic Abuse is not acceptable – you are not alone and there is help – if your partner or ex-partner is controlling your life, abusing your finances, threatening or assaulting you or making you feel unsafe then it’s not your fault. CHS can help you to find the support you need, advise you about your housing options, help make your home more secure and help you make the change you need.  

You can contact us and talk it through safely with someone at CHS, and /or contact one of the national helplines:  

  • Refuge Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247 (day or night, in many languages) or  (includes a British Sign Language helpline and LiveChat)   
  • National LGBTQ+ Domestic Abuse helpline 0800 999 5428 
  • Men’s Advice Line 0808 801 0327  

Respect is an anonymous and confidential helpline (0808 8024040) for men and women who are harming their partners and families.   

Right To Buy?

Many of you will have seen the news headlines about the Government’s intention to extend the Right to Buy to housing associations like CHS.  Note that this was announced by Boris Johnson and it’s not clear whether the new Prime Minister will want to continue with the idea. But if they did, what might this mean for you and CHS?
The proposals set out were:

• 2.5 million housing association tenants would be given the right to buy (RTB)
• Any initial scheme would be capped to ensure it is affordable within existing government budgets
• A commitment to build replacement social homes for each one sold, and a suggestion that these would be replaced like for like

The Government has talked about extending the RTB before but there are a lot of problems to sort out first to make it work, not least that most housing associations, like CHS, are charities and the Government will have to reimburse us if it requires us to sell our homes at a discount.

In the Voluntary RTB scheme pilot launched by the Government and housing associations in the Midlands in 2018, the lessons included

• 20% of tenants who applied were not able to buy their current home because planning or land title restrictions prevented it. These people were offered a portable discount to buy another home but less than 1 in 10 were able to do this as housing associations struggled to find suitable homes for them
• Sold homes were not replaced on a one for one basis and where they were, 70% were replaced with (often smaller) homes at higher rents or for shared ownership (so less affordable)
• These pressures were because the average sale receipt plus discount from the Government came to £137,271 while the average cost of building a replacement home was around £280,000

If you are lucky enough to be able to buy your own home under the scheme that’s a wonderful bonus for you. But if the homes are to be replaced to support other people who desperately need an affordable home, then the Government will need to solve the many problems and provide very significant levels of funding.

Remember there is no new Right To Buy scheme yet so please don’t get in touch. We’ll let you know here on our website and in our Newsletter if the scheme ever starts.

Looking for work or know someone who is? 

We currently have full-time and part-time permanent positions available at our Residential Care Homes and Extra Care Schemes in North Cambridge CB4, CB1 and Melbourn SG8  

  • Day Care Assistants* 
  • Night Care Assistant*
  • Laundry Assistants*
  • Housekeepers*
  • Catering Assistant*
  • Night Care Team Leader – Langdon House Care Home CB4

*No experience or qualification necessary, as you will be fully trained on the job.   

We can offer 

  • 28 days holiday increased to 33 inclusive of Bank Holidays, depending on length of service 
  • Recruitment and retention payment of £150 after 6 months and £100 on completion of further 6 months 
  • Company sick pay scheme 
  • Contributory pension scheme 
  • And more… 

If you need more flexibility, then we also have Casual Relief positions available. 

If this sounds appealing, view our website at for full details of all our current vacancies, benefits and how to apply. You will also be able to see interesting information about us and the various services we provide. 

If you would like an informal chat about working for CHS, then please call Dawn Bozok, HR Advisor on 07921 234843 or e-mail and a member of our friendly HR Team will be happy to help you. Please note applications are subject to a clear Enhanced DBS Disclosure. We very much look forward to hearing from you. 

More articles

Have your say

Our Tenant Committee is always keen to welcome new members. Have your say on changes that affect you as a tenant, make a difference and meet new people. Jacquie Taylor is stepping down as Chair of the Committee so there is an opening for a new Chair who will start from October. 

Some members of the Tenant Committee also get involved in our Panels – The Complaints Panel have been working to ensure CHS’s complaint handling policy and procedure is compliant with the Housing Ombudsman’s updated code. Meanwhile the Scrutiny Panel are reviewing Gasway responsive repairs and they have been talking to tenants to hear about their experiences. All this helps CHS to improve our services to you.  

Tenants will have a chance to find out how other Housing Associations are rethinking tenant involvement at the Tpas regional forum meeting 28th September in Bury St Edmunds. Two staff and three volunteers are planning to go and there’s still time to join us. 

Interested? Not sure but would like to know more? Please contact Laura at or on  07540 122624. 

Residents celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

CHS residents across Cambridgeshire celebrated the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in June. Street parties were held in Headlands in Huntingdon and at John Beckett Court in Ely.  These events were supported with CHS neighbourhood grants. Organiser Tracy Wort said “What a great day we all had celebrating the Queen’s Jubilee, we had plenty to eat and drink and had lots of fun, another successful Headlanders street party.”

The residents of John Beckett Court enjoyed live music on the lawn with their buffet and they raised £282 for the Air Ambulance from a raffle.

In Cambourne, families got creative with pavement art and dancing to celebrate the Jubilee, plus an art contest and exhibition.

Residents at Ellis House hung out union jack flags for their tea party and at St Andrews Glebe they planted some red, white and blue flower boxes to show their patriotic spirit.

If you would like to apply for a neighbourhood grant for a community event, please contact Laura Papanikolaou on 07540 122624 or

Worried about a neighbour?

Sometimes we worry about people and don’t know how to help. You may be worried that a friend or neighbour could be at risk of abuse, for example sexual abuse, domestic abuse, financial abuse, self-neglect (including hoarding, or a very cluttered home).  

Some adults are more at risk than others, for example older people, those with disabilities or mental health problems, and those with care and support needs. If you are worried that such a person is being abused, you can report your concern to Cambridgeshire County Council as an adult safeguarding concern (0345 0455202).   

If you think that a friend or neighbour is subject to domestic abuse, then even if they don’t have an existing support need, you can help. There is great advice at the National Domestic Abuse Helpline (0808 2000 247) on how you can support someone and let them know you’ve noticed something is wrong. Or go online to You can also contact CHS for advice.   

If you think a child is suffering physical, sexual or emotional abuse or is being neglected, you can also contact Cambridgeshire County Council ( to report your concern.  

Whatever the situation, if you believe there is an immediate risk of harm to someone (adult or child) or it is an emergency, you should call 999.       


Tpas Conference

CHS are members of Tpas, who are the tenant engagement experts, they promote, support and champion tenant involvement and empowerment in social housing across England. Being members has a number of benefits for us that all of our tenants can get access to, such as training, including webinars and events, resources, news and a platform to talk to a community of involved residents and tenant engagement professionals. You can find out more about Tpas by visiting their website If you would like to access the members area, or you would like to know more about volunteering with CHS, please contact Laura Papanikolaou on 07540 122624 or Two of our involved tenants Jane and Trish recently attended the Tpas National Conference in Solihul. They have written about their experiences below. 

‘As we waited for Tpas Chief Executive Jenny Osbourne to open the conference the atmosphere was electric; 200 delegates all ready to engage. Day 1 had started and what a starter; Kate Dodsworth from the Housing Regulator who we thought was outstanding as she tackled some awkward questions with consummate ease! Brilliant! Boards up and down the country, time to get ready for what’s coming in 2024! The workshops we attended were informative, lively and some great idea sharing. The Stop Social Housing Stigma most interesting and we will certainly be taking this back to our Housing Association. An excellent band entertained us during the evening.             

Day 2. The Housing Ombudsman explained the need for better and more robust record keeping. Housing Associations must become more proactive! Again excellent workshops and then before we knew it Jenny was closing the conference and it was all over. It had oozed enthusiasm from start to finish! What had we learnt – tenant communication is very much alive and kicking. The professionalism of the TPAS staff and smooth running of the whole event was outstanding! A huge thank you all and here’s to 2023.’  

Jane and Trish, CHS Volunteers 

Promoting Equality, Diversity & Inclusion

CHS strives to be a fair and inclusive organisation and we want everybody to have equal access to opportunities, services and be treated fairly and supported when doing so. No employee or customer should experience discrimination, harassment, or victimisation when they interact with us.   

As part of this commitment, CHS has set up an Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) working group made up of staff from underrepresented groups (as determined by CHS’s Equality and Diversity statistics), and our management team and Board members. The purpose of this group, which meets every three months, is to provide guidance and support to help CHS meet its equality, diversity, and inclusion strategic aims in relation to our employees and customers and to deliver on its action plan.  

Our EDI action plan sets out our diversity strategy and inclusion aim across the whole organisation and one area we have focused on this year is encouraging two-way communication and engagement with staff. By promoting and supporting several key awareness campaigns including Black History Month, International Women’s Day, Ramadan, Mental Health Awareness Week, Pride Month and Learning Disabilities Week, we shared information with staff to help inform and encouraged discussion.   

Working with Gasway for continuous improvement to your repairs service

We have been working with Gasway to improve their response times in completing repairs for customers.  CHS have a number of different heating systems across our properties, so it is impossible for Gasway to stock every part that could be required for a repair.  However, in an effort to improve the service, Gasway have identified a number of parts that have now been added to van stocks or stock levels of current parts have been increased, to improve the chances of a First Time Fix and to reduce repair times.  More parts on the van = More repairs completed at first visit. 

Gasway have some useful videos on their website showing you how to reset your boiler, top up the boiler pressure or understand your gas meter, as well as energy saving tips. Another useful suggestion is to run your boiler for an hour one day in the summer (don’t pick a hot day!), this will make sure it’s working well and may prevent a repair call out on the first cold day of Autumn when everyone switches on their heating for the first time. 

Garden Competition Opens

If you’re a keen gardener we’d love to see how you’ve been doing during this very dry summer! Please submit your entries for the garden competition and you could win a prize of garden vouchers. Email photos to or post them to our usual address care of Laura Papanikolaou



Carbon Monoxide – The Silent Killer

Every year there are tragic reports of people dying from a silent killer in their home.  That killer is carbon monoxide and it can be created when gas or oil is burned in faulty or badly fitted gas or oil appliances, such as boilers and cookers.  

Keeping you and your family safe in your home is really important to CHS.  We carry out an annual gas safety check of your home, inspecting your gas appliances and any carbon monoxide detectors present. We welcome the new rules for housing association landlords recently introduced by the Government on the installation of carbon monoxide (CO) detectors and smoke alarms. CHS will: 

  • Provide a smoke alarm on every storey of your home where there is a room used as living accommodation
  • Provide carbon monoxide alarms in any room of your home used as living accommodation where there is a gas or oil appliance present (excluding gas cookers)
  • Repair or replace any alarm which is found to be faulty during your tenancy as soon as we have been made aware of problem. 

We will contact you shortly to ask about the alarms you have in your home. We will also be arranging for our contractors to check the alarms in your home and to fit battery-operated alarms where necessary if they are visiting your home for other repairs. 

Further information about the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning can be found at 

Customer Satisfaction Survey

Our survey showed that overall satisfaction has increased by 0.1% to 77.4% (6.8% of customers were dissatisfied) so it has stayed about the same as last year. There were small improvements in what people felt about the rent they pay and having a say. The satisfaction measures that fell slightly were the quality of home, the repairs service, and service charges. Most disappointing for us to see was the 5% drop in people saying CHS is easy to deal with. And complaint handing satisfaction is down by 3%. Satisfaction with the neighbourhood was down a bit and this is to do with parking and anti-social behaviour (ASB). Shared owners are the least satisfied group of customers, who told us this is often about  service charges.  

The survey results show that we need to continue working to improve communication and complaints handling in particular. Plans underway so far include: 

  • Updating our Complaints Policy in line with the new Housing Ombudsman complaint handling code
  • Training sessions with teams about improving logging of contact with customers using our housing management system
  • Further development of targeted communication by e-mail (for example we emailed those claiming Universal credit to remind them to update their new rent level)
  • Developing the editorial group of Tenant Committee to help us review leaflets and the customer annual report
  • We would also like to work with a group of shared owners separately from the Tenant Committee so that we can focus on the issues that concern them. 

Estate Inspector feedback 

Satisfaction with the Gardening service is 78% (May 2022) compared with 60% last year. We are delighted with this dramatic improvement as it shows that customers are happier with the work of our new gardening contractor, Mark Walker Grounds Maintenance. 

Repairs feedback 

In 2021-22 satisfaction with was 90%

and satisfaction with was 87%     

Please keep communal areas clear

Blocking communal areas and fire exits risks lives and can cause serious harm and injury. Please keep corridors, entrances, stairways and fire doors clear. 


The Social Housing Regulation Bill: Key changes for tenants

The Social Housing Regulation Bill was introduced to Parliament on 8th June 2022. The Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) will have stronger powers to issue unlimited fines to landlords, enter properties with only 48 hours’ notice and make emergency repairs. The Bill is the latest step in addressing the systemic issues identified following the Grenfell Tower tragedy, not just on the safety and quality of social housing, but about how tenants are treated by their landlords. CHS welcomes the bill to give tenant’s greater powers and improve access to swift and fair redress. 


Underperforming social landlords will be subject to ‘Ofsted-style’ inspections by the regulator, who will only have to give 48 hours’ notice to landlords before inspections. The regulator will also have to give the tenants 24 hours’ notice before an inspection. 

Emergency remedial action 

The regulator will have the power to carry out emergency works on properties, for which the social landlord will have to foot the bill. The emergency works can be carried out after a survey of a property finds it caused “an imminent risk of serious harm” to the health and safety of anyone living there. Tenants must be given 24 hours’ notice before the works are carried out. 

Performance improvement plans 

Social landlords will be issued with ‘performance improvement plan notices’ if they fail to meet standards, they will then have to prepare a plan on how they are going to address any issues and send it to the regulator. Tenants can request to see copies of their landlords’ improvement plans. If the landlord fails to comply with improvement plan notices they could be issued with enforcement action or a fine, or have to pay compensation.  

Resident Panel 

Tenants will have a direct line to government, with a new 250-person residents panel meeting every 4 months to share their experiences with Ministers, inform policy thinking and help drive change in the sector. Two of our tenants have applied to join the panel.

Removal of serious detriment test
The Bill removes the ‘serious detriment’ test, which currently blocks the RSH from intervening over consumer standards unless it suspects tenants are at risk of serious harm. This will make it easier for the Regulator to tackle poor performing landlords.  

Health and safety lead 

Landlords will need to have a named person who will be responsible for health and safety requirements. At CHS this is Stephen Hills, our Operations Director.  

Freedom of information 

Tenants of housing associations will be able to request information from their landlord, similar to how the Freedom of Information Act works for council housing. The bill requires social landlords to give tenants information relating to their accommodation, facilities or services. A social landlord must also publish its executives’ salaries and management costs. Tenants will be able to rate their landlord as part of new satisfaction measures.  

Performance and monitoring 

The regulator can now ask social landlords to collect and publish information relating to their compliance performance.

Electrical safety standards 

The government is seeking views on electrical safety standards for social housing via a consultation 

Housing Ombudsman scheme 

The Housing Ombudsman was granted new powers – which included the ability to refer more cases to the regulator and to issue complaint-handling orders against poorly performing landlords – in September 2020. The purpose is to ensure that a landlord’s complaint-handling process is accessible, consistent and timely, as set out in the Housing Ombudsman’s complaint-handling code. The bill puts into law the code of practice.  

This Bill marks the latest step in response to the Grenfell Tower fire, following on from the Building Safety Act and last year’s Fire Safety Act. 

CHS Group retains G1, V2 grading following Regulator’s In-Depth Assessment

Like all housing associations, CHS is regulated by the Regulator of Social Housing which is a public body sponsored by the government. A strong regulatory rating gives assurance to our customers, lenders and business partners. The Regulator sets standards that we are expected to meet and annually carries out rigorous assessments of how we are managing our business. This includes checking our levels of financial risk, our rent setting and how we are delivering value for money.  Every three to four years the Regulator carries out a longer assessment. On 29 June 2022, the Regulator published the results of theirIn-Depth Assessment, confirming that CHS continues to hold the highest grade possible, G1, for our governance and V2 for financial viability, which reflects our continued ambition to focus on a diverse range of support services for  people who need care and support. 

Shared Ownership

These two identical two bed bungalows for shared ownership in the village of Cheveley, about 3 miles from Newmarket, were handed over to us at the end of January. They are both sold subject to contract, but if you are interested in viewing shared ownership properties that are available to buy now or you want to find out more about the scheme visit our shared ownership page


Board Update

Sharon Allen and Tendai Kariwo will be leaving our Board in September, after each serving 9 years, the maximum term of office.  They have both made a huge contribution to CHS, for which members and staff are very grateful.   

New members

Tim Jennings, is joining the Board and the Audit & Risk Committee in July.   

Tim has over 35 years’ experience in the private and social housing sectors. After qualifying as a chartered accountant, Tim spent around 25 years in the private sector as Finance Director for businesses in property design and consultancy, maintenance and property management. Tim is the Executive Director of Finance for Catalyst Housing. Tim is also a Board member at Ability Housing and Community Housing. 

Jacquie Taylor and Shaidah Ramzen will join the Board and the Operations Committee in September. 

Much of Jacquie’s working life has focused on people, firstly working as an administrator then Manager of an Adult Education department at a local Village College, then as Eastern Regional Operations Manager for the Worker’s Educational Association. Jacquie has been a CHS volunteer since 2017, as a member of Scrutiny Panel, Complaints Panel and Chair of the Tenant Committee. Working with the Board to ensure that all tenants have the chance to live and thrive in a safe and comfortable home is a high priority for Jacquie. 


Shaidah is a commercial lawyer with extensive experience in working in the public sector and currently heads a commercial litigation team at the London Borough of Brent.  Shaidah’s particular expertise lies in legal financial recovery in areas such as dissipation of assets, adult social care, service charge and major works and has led on some of the most complex and high value legal cases whilst attaining excellent results for her clients. Shaidah was recognised by Lawyers in Local Government when she won the coveted Junior Lawyer of the year in 2020.  


Updates from our schemes

A pat on the back for Jess 

Residents at Richard Newcombe Court were excited to have Jess, a local PAT dog come and visit them in June. Everybody had a lovely time and they are hoping to see her again soon. 


Home grown vegetables on the menu at Dunstan Court 

Following a fundraiser at Dunstan Court in August last year, the vegetable patch is coming along nicely. We currently have tomatoes, cucumbers and green beans growing, which will eventually make their way to the tenants’ lunches. 




Flower arranging at Moorlands Court 

The Community Champion from Royston Tesco paid a return visit to Moorlands Court on 5th July to host a flower arranging workshop. The displays created were all very impressive and the participants got to take their creations home at the end of the session.


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