Independent HACT report praises A2Dominion’s “absolutely vital” support to residents through Covid-19

A2Dominion has been hailed for “ensuring the security and safety of its residents” during lockdown in an independent report published today.
A2Dominion “has responded impressively, efficiently and effectively to Covid-19 and lockdown”.
A2Dominion “has responded impressively, efficiently and effectively to Covid-19 and lockdown”.
The "Responding to the crisis: an evaluation of A2Dominion’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic" report was commissioned by A2Dominion and compiled by the Housing Associations' Charitable Trust (HACT), an innovation agency that provides future-oriented solutions, projects and products for UK social housing.

The report evaluates A2Dominion’s housing and community investment response to the pandemic so far, and will help to inform its ongoing work. It concludes that A2Dominion “has responded impressively, efficiently and effectively to Covid-19 and lockdown”.

In response, Dawn Wightman, Director of Housing Services at A2Dominion, said: “We have worked hard as an organisation to meet this challenge and put our customers at the heart of what we do.

“While we are proud of our response to date, we are committed to improving so we can continue to provide the most effective support for our customers and help them improve their lives.”

Key challenges

The report focuses on five key challenges faced by A2Dominion’s customers during the crisis and the response by the Group’s Housing and Community Investment teams to them. The five key challenges were: confinement, finances and employment, digital connectivity, food access and medicine access.

The key pillars of A2Dominion’s response were welfare calls to vulnerable residents (both over 70 and under 30), increased activity around tenancy sustainment (primarily helping residents with financial challenges) and shifting working practices to facilitate both of these efforts.

A2Dominion’s response in numbers

  • Welfare calls: 2,775 calls made to customers over 70 years old, 18.8% of whom required further advice or support, as well as 192 calls to customers under 30 years old, of whom 67.1% required further support.
  • Tenancy sustainment: referrals to this service were 121% higher than comparable months in 2019. In April, there was an unprecedented increase in claims for Universal Credit with 836 new cases, 6.5 times the monthly average from the previous six months.
The most common outcomes of the welfare calls were referrals to third parties for isolation and related issues (18.8%), helping with access to food (13.9%) and medicine (4.5%) and referrals to foodbanks or tenancy support (3.9%).

The report found that these actions were not only successful in reaching a large number of residents in need of help but that they were also very well received by those contacted, with one 33-year-old resident who received a welfare call saying: “To me they’re not just a housing association, they’re a support network”.

For the tenancy sustainment referrals, a large number of cases were about helping people navigate the Universal Credit system, which many were experiencing for the first time.

One freelance hairdresser was referred to the Tenancy Sustainment team as the loss of income meant they were struggling to pay their rent. They were helped to sign up to Universal Credit, which they described as “a godsend”, and also given advice on the government scheme for the self-employed. They said of the support they received: “If it hadn’t been for the help, I’d have been pretty stuffed.”

Concluding, HACT Chief Executive Andrew van Doorn, said: “The work they [A2Dominion] have been doing in ensuring the security and safety of their residents and communities has been absolutely vital.

“Building and learning from evidence is something to which we as a sector need to be committed. Taking the time to reflect, as A2Dominion have done here, is central to ensuring our organisations and communities are prepared for the further challenges to come.”