COVID-19 Emergency Relief
please click HERE

Payment Break Option
please click HERE

To pay the Yearly Payment due on
1 April 2020
by Direct Debit, please click HERE

During the COVID-19 Emergency Restrictions, all office staff are working from home

Please, whenever possible,
contact us by email using the appropriate address on our main contact page
HERE

 

(we can only divert the phone to one location)

OFFICE HOURS

 

Mon: 8:30am – 5:00pm

Tue:   8:30am – 5:00pm

Wed: 8:30am – 5:00pm

Thu:   8:30am – 5:00pm

Fri:     8:30am – 2:00pm

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COVID-19 Emergency Relief Measures

Fellow Residents

 

Together we all face a situation that we could not possibly have envisaged and there are undoubtedly difficult times ahead for us all; financially, emotionally, physically, mentally and now socially.

 

Here at The Trust, one of the primary objectives of The Board of Directors and the staff we oversee remains the safety and welfare of everyone living or working on the development, all who may visit it, and the management and maintenance of the community assets such as the land, building, and facilities for which we are responsible.

 

We have tried to be proactive in meeting the challenges Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to bring and our first action was to close the Community Centre to help to break the chain of infection.  This action was taken several days before government direction for this type of facility was received.

 

Our second consideration was what we might do to help with the financial burden that many residents are facing.  It was unfortunate that the invoices for the Yearly Payment due on 1st April 2020 had just been sent out, but nonetheless, The Board moved quickly to agree on and offer a 3-month deferment of payment to anyone who might want to make use of it.  Many residents have now requested to do so, though we have only so far been able to reach out via social media and our website to announce this concession.

 

Our third action has been to investigate what, if anything else we could do, and having now obtained the legal advice that we have been eagerly awaiting, I am pleased to announce a further measure that I feel you will welcome.

 

It is not within the power of The Board to vary the terms and conditions of the Annual Charge or how it is indexed and collected.  As a not-for-profit organisation, The Trust is expressly prohibited from returning or distributing any dividends, bonuses or capital funds that we might hold to its members.

 

We have, however, worked hard to identify a way we might be able to act to reduce the charge this year without falling foul of the law and resulting in Directors being held liable for the loss of or wrongful distribution of company assets.  We plan to do this through the introduction of “COVID-19 Emergency Relief” to reduce the Annual Payment due on 1st April 2020.

 

In introducing this measure, I must stress that:

  • It is being offered due to the extenuating circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic
     
  • The Charge due on 1st April 2021 will revert to this year’s pre-adjusted charge of £303.86 +/- the normal change due to indexation
     
  • This concession is without prejudice and will not set a precedent in the event of any future emergency nor if the current emergency persists


The COVID-19 Emergency Concession
 

In addition to the 3-month deferment already offered on the payment due on
1st April 2020, we will be issuing new invoices to all members and:

 

  • The sum that will be re-invoiced is £227.90 (a 25% reduction equating to £75.97)
     
  • The invoice due date will remain as 1st April 2020, but payment can be deferred until 1st July 2020 in accordance with the existing 3-month deferment option
     
  • For anyone who has set up or wishes to set up a Direct Debit, eight payments will now be taken; the first payment will be collected on 1st July 2020 and the eighth payment on 1st February 2021
     
  • The full 25% relief will apply only to invoices that fall due on 1st April 2020.  For any property (new build or resale) where the sale completes between
    2nd April 2020 and 31 March 2021, the relief will be tapered according to the completion date and applied as a credit against the subsiquent Yearly Payment.  For example, the owner of a property of which the sale completes exactly half way through the year will receive a credit of £37.99 against the following year's charge (in addition to the normal credit for their part-year ownership)

 

What About Those Members Who Have Already Paid?
 

Some residents pay as soon as they receive the invoice, and we are always grateful to them for doing so as it spreads the administrative load.  However, this poses a problem this year in that it is difficult for us to refund what will now be an overpayment as quickly and easily as we received it.  This is because if the payment was made online, our bank statement does not show the Sort Code / Account Number, and even if it did, to return the overpayment by the same method would result in our having to first set the payee up as a new beneficiary, then process the payment, then authorise the payment.
 

There is a further consideration; because we cannot ascertain the Sort Code / Account Number from our bank statement, there is the possibility that we might suffer loss through some form of fraudulent action (not by the original payee, but by others purporting to be them).  Likewise, if the charge was paid by cheque, we do not keep a copy of cheques, so the Sort Code and Account number of the payee are unknown to us.

 

I would therefore like to ask, if at all possible, if those of you whom have already paid the charge might be happy to accept a credit on your account, at least initially, with a promise that should times get tougher and you want a refund at a later stage, we will honour your request as swiftly as possible.
 

Finally, and bizarrely enough, for the reasons outlined above, the easiest way for us to offer you a refund whilst avoiding any risk of fraud would be to write you a cheque.  However, because Trust Staff are currently working from home and Directors are following the rules regarding social distancing, it will be difficult to get cheques written and signed by two of the authorised signatories, and it may prove difficult for you to pay the cheque into your bank.
 

New Invoices Will Be Produced
 

The only way we can remain within the rules and regulations is to issue a new invoice to everyone showing a lower amount; we cannot simply say “please accept this £75.97 rebate to help you out” as this would be classed as a dividend payment.   The invoice run takes a considerable time, and that is when staff are co-located in the office with the high-speed printer and franking machine.  It is always a real team effort!  Given that staff are currently all working from home and without access to essential equipment, this poses a real problem for us.

 

We will shortly commence the reversal of the original charge on individual accounts covering every property on our system, prior to generating soft copies of each new invoice.  We do not intend to issue new statements of account because we don’t feel this is necessary. 

 

Your new invoice will show the balance carried forward from the previous year, this year’s (amended) charge, and the total amount now due, which we hope will be OK for everyone.  Those residents who have opted to pay by Direct Debit will also find a complete breakdown of the new payments on the reverse of the invoice.

 

We then plan to see if we can email these new invoices to as many of you as possible, but we’ve not done this before, so it will be something of a learning curve.  As we don’t hold email addresses for everyone, we will then have to look at how we might get hard copies out, but given the current situation this will not be easy.  This action would require all members of staff to go back to the office where it will be difficult to maintain separation and I don’t want to put staff at unnecessary risk in our endeavours to help you, our residents.
 

What Can We Do for Those Residents Who Rent Their Homes?
 

We never discriminate against tenants or favour owners, but The Trust’s financial arrangement and legal contract is between The Trust and the Owner Member. 
 

We cannot exercise any influence whatsoever over any landlord, but we sincerely hope that one way or another, landlords will pass on the relief they are being offered (in respect of the Yearly Payment) to their tenants. 
 

Please bear in mind though that it will take us some considerable time to advise absent landlords of these measures.  If a landlord is not on Facebook or never looks at our website, they won’t know about this offer until we have been able to contact them via email or letter.  Some live overseas; how long it will take us to reach everyone is not known.  So, if you intend to approach your landlord, please don’t do it yet.  They won’t know the Trust’s current stance for some time.

 

Stay safe, stay well, stay with us.


Jono  

 

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