Service charge: Frequently Asked Questions
Your service charge is a weekly calculation of all relevant services that you receive in and around your home. This includes the staff team on site as well as the Service Hub, building safety checks and works, contracted services, communal repairs, lighting and other property related costs. Services provided differ depending upon where you live and are individually shown in your service charge letter.
We have carried out a detailed service charge review during the year and have identified areas where we have previously not charged either the correct amount or any charge at all. To ensure future investment in services it is important that C&C recover these costs. However, for the year April 2021 - March 2022, we will be capping these increases in order to best support those residents not in receipt of full benefits. For the vast majority of residents, this will mean an increase of up to £5.00 per week to your service charge.
The service charge is based on contracted and budgeted costs for services carried out between April 2021 and March 2022, the next financial year. The current service charges are significantly under the actual cost of services provided to residents. However, in support of our most vulnerable residents we have capped the charges for the next financial year as outlined above.
Housing benefit - we have already contacted your Local Authority and will be writing to them again in March confirming the new charge from April 2021. The rent and service charge will be covered by the Housing Benefit you are entitled to. Residents in receipt of partial housing benefit where the increase is more than £15 per week will also be able to apply to the C&C financial support fund.
Universal Credit - you will need to contact the DWP to inform them of the increased service charge. Residents in receipt of partial universal credit, where the increase is more than £15 per week will also be able to apply to the C&C financial support fund.
What if you cannot afford to pay the full service charge increase?
While the new charges are based on the cost of service provision, we recognise that some residents not in receipt of full benefit may find it difficult to pay the new service charge in full.
Therefore, we will be financially supporting residents who are not in receipt of full housing benefit in two ways:
1. All service charge increases more than £5 per week will be capped for this year with a discretionary financial support. This means that in many instances we will not be reclaiming the full cost of services provided for the year April 2021 – March 2022.
2. We will offer additional access to the C&C discretionary financial support fund for residents where the service charge has increased by over £15 per week.
Your service charge will therefore fall under 1 of 3 categories:
1. If your service charge is increasing by up to £5.00 per week
You will be expected to meet this new charge. As stated, the new charges are based on the cost to deliver services. Please contact us or Citizens’ Advice https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/contact-us/contact-us/contact-us/ if you would like us to help you understand any additional welfare benefits you may be entitled to
2. If your service charge is increasing between £5.01 and £15.00 per week
We will automatically cap your weekly service charge increase to £5 per week. Therefore, you will only need to pay £5.00 extra per week. We will not seek to claim any additional charges owed on top of this for the year April 2021-March 2022.
As with category 1, Please contact us or Citizens’ Advice https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/contact-us/contact-us/contact-us/ if you would like us to help you understand any additional welfare benefits you may be entitled to
3. If your service charge is increasing by over £15.00 per week
We will automatically cap this to 30% of the increase.
If you fall into this category, we recognise it is the highest actual increase, and so we wish to support you more. You can therefore apply directly to the C&C financial support fund. To do this, please contact the Service Hub or Service Officer who will help you carry out an income and expenditure assessment. If your disposable income is less than £250 per calendar month the minimum expected to pay will also be an extra £5 per week.
If your disposable income is more than £250 per month, then we will come to an agreement as to how much extra you are able to pay (yet will still allow you to keep up to £250 of disposable income per month).
This flowchart outlines the different categories of service charge and financial assistance available.
Personal charges for heating and hot water are not covered by Housing Benefit and will still need to be paid directly.
Our financial support fund is only for residents whose service charge is increasing by over £15.00 per week (please note: this will automatically be capped to 30%).
When you contact us, we will guide you through an income and expenditure form to support your application for financial support (this will take approximately 15 minutes).
Please have the following to hand so that we can complete the form as quickly and accurately as possible:
- Bank statements
- Utility Bills
- Council Tax letter
- Housing Benefit entitlement or UC Entitlement
- Latest payslip
- Pension Statements
We will be asking you questions regarding your regular outgoings as well as any income and/or benefits you currently receive. This is necessary so that we can properly assess your application and also help you claim any additional benefits you may be entitled to. Please note that any information shared with us will be in the strictest confidence.
Your application will be assessed by our income team and you will be notified of the outcome in 28 days. Please be reassured that will not take any enforcement action for non-payment of service charges while you are making an application.
We will be processing applications as quickly as possible and should provide an outcome within 28 days. Again, please be reassured that will not take any enforcement action for non-payment of service charges while you are making an application.
They are also based on the cost of services delivered, which can change. We have no additional plans to increase charges during this year. All of the services delivered to you are subject to an ongoing review so that we can ensure you receive the best quality services at the lowest cost available.
No. While we have been undercharging for a significant period, we will not seek to charge for previous years’ service charges.
The service charged are estimated, so we are unable to guarantee whether there will be further changes the following year. They are also based on the cost of services delivered, which can change. We have no further plans to increase charges during April 2021-March 2022, outside of the increases highlighted. All of the services delivered to you are subject to on-going review so that we can ensure you receive the best quality services at the lowest cost available.
We appreciate that the current restrictions make it difficult to discuss this face to face However, we have already written to all residents to outline online meetings with our larger schemes in March. You can also reach us via e-mail email@example.com or call us on 0207 922 5300.