Hounslow Homes by zhangyun

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									        Hounslow Homes
    Disability Equality Scheme
              2006-09


 How Hounslow Homes will meet the Disability
Equality Duty and the Disability Discrimination Act
                      2005




                                         Board approval – 23.01.07




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                           Foreword

Hounslow Homes duly acknowledges its statutory obligations
arising from the Disability Discrimination Act 2005, which provides
a positive duty to promote equality for disabled people and widens
the definition of disability to include cancer, HIV & multiple
sclerosis.

Hounslow Homes welcomes the need for public authorities to meet
the general and specific duties of the new act by producing,
publishing and implementing it’s Disability Equality Scheme by
December 2006. To meet best practice and provide excellent
services, Hounslow Homes has produced its own Disability
Equality Scheme as an organisation that carries out public housing
management functions on behalf of Hounslow Council.

The Disability Equality Scheme has been developed after
extensive consultation & engagement with disabled staff, tenants
and leaseholders as well as local disability groups, through a
variety of consultative mechanisms. Hounslow Homes is
committed to producing an annual report highlighting the progress
made as well as assessing the impact of the scheme on various
housing activities.

The organisation will meet the positive duty requirements and
meet the challenge of providing accessible services that are
tailored to meeting the needs of Hounslow’s diverse communities,
including disabled staff, tenants and leaseholders.




Signed Bernadette O’Shea                 Signed Alf Chandler
Chief Executive,                         Chair, Hounslow Homes
Hounslow Homes                           Board




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Introduction

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995, amended by the Disability
Discrimination Act 2005 (DDA), placed a statutory general duty on
all public authorities, including ALMO’s to actively promote
disability equality. This means that Hounslow Homes, in carrying
out all its functions (new & existing) must have due regard to the
need to:

   • Promote equality of opportunity between disabled persons &
     other persons
   • Eliminate discrimination that is unlawful under the DDA
   • Eliminate harassment of disabled persons that is related to
     their disabilities
   • Promote positive attitudes towards disabled persons
   • Encourage participation by disabled persons in public life
   • Take steps to take account of disabled persons disabilities,
     even where that involves treating disabled persons more
     favourably than other persons.

The DDA 2005 also places specific duties on public authorities,
which although Hounslow Homes, as an ALMO is not legally
required to meet, nevertheless the organisation welcomes.
Hounslow Homes will endeavour to meet the specific duties to
continue to meet good practice within the area of disability equality
as well as to meet the duties passed on by Hounslow Council to
Hounslow Homes, in carrying out work on its behalf.

Hounslow Homes is meeting the specific duty by producing and
publishing its Disability Equality Scheme which sets out how we
will fulfil both the general & specific duties to promote disability
equality for the next three years, with progress reviewed annually.

Hounslow Homes views its Disability Equality Scheme as a
continuation of its Disability Equality Strategy, which was originally
produced in January 2000, and revised again in 2005.

Our Commitment

Hounslow Homes is committed to the principles of equal service
provision for all, including disabled people - some of whom may



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experience multiple discrimination, due to their ethnicity, gender,
age, sexual orientation, religion or belief.

The Disability Equality Scheme has been developed in accordance
with Hounslow Homes Equal Opportunities Policy which details
Hounslow Homes commitment in addressing inequalities and
discrimination experienced by any disabled tenant, leaseholder or
staff member. Hounslow Homes is fully committed to eradicating
any policy, practice &/or procedure that results in an adverse
impact for disabled employees and service users and these will be
regularly reviewed, taking into account the results of impact
assessments, views of service users and changes in
legislation/good practice. Furthermore, the organisation reaffirms
its commitment to providing a responsive and transparent service
for the benefit of all disabled customers.

Therefore in line with our mission statement and “Customer Care
Strategy,” Hounslow Homes is committed to ensuring that it
achieves excellence in planning, resourcing and delivery of all its
services that meets the diverse needs of all, including disabled
customers and that Sustainable Communities are developed.

Furthermore, Hounslow Homes Disability Equality Scheme is
mainstreamed within our central Strategic Plan for Excellence
2004 – 2010 in the delivery of quality services for all our
customers.

Our Principles

The principles underpinning Hounslow Homes Disability Equality
Scheme are:
  • Equality of access to local housing services
  • Equality of access to the properties managed by Hounslow
     Homes
  • Equality of Opportunity in employment, including career
     development for people with disabilities
  • Access to appropriate training and education to help
     employment opportunities and career development
  • Equal participation in the decision-making process
  • Use of “reasonable adjustments” routinely in equipment,
     policies, procedures and building changes




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Our Acknowledgement

Hounslow Homes acknowledges that disability equality is in the
organisations own self-interest, on financial, business, legal and
moral grounds. By pursuing disability equality, Hounslow Homes
can protect itself from legal action been taken by disabled staff and
customers and the adverse publicity that may arise from this
action, as well as from any financial compensation that may need
to be paid if Hounslow Homes was found to be non compliant with
disability legislation.

Our Approach

The aim of Hounslow Homes is to provide an accessible and
quality service to all of its residents. We will endeavour to do this
by meeting our legal responsibilities and promoting best practice in
accordance with the following legislations:

      Disability Discrimination Act 1995 & 2005
      DDA 1995 (Amendment) Regulations 2003
      DDA 1995 (Pensions) Regulations 2003
      DDA Codes of Practice
      Building Regulations 2000 (inc amendments 2003) & Part M
      2004

In addition, Hounslow Homes will continue to follow good practice
guidelines advocated by the Disability Rights Commission (DRC) &
other relevant bodies such as the RNID or RNIB, aswell as
recommendations from commissioned disabled consultants, our
staff & customers.

In line with the DDA 1995 & 2005, Hounslow Homes will continue
to follow the following definition of disability:

      “A physical or mental impairment, which has a substantial
      and long term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out
      normal day to day activities”

Whilst Hounslow Homes recognises that it may supersede the
specific DDA definition of disability, the organisation is committed
to following good practice by continuing to pursue the Social Model
of Disability, as standard in its approach to disability equality. The
Social Model states:


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      ‘’Disability occurs when barriers prevent progress, and
      although an impairment may remain, the barriers of
      environment or attitude can be removed.’’

The Social Model views the environment (attitudes & physical) as
disabling rather than the impaired person as having a disability.
This is the view held by Hounslow Homes and dictates our
approach in promoting disability equality.

The Wider Context

Hounslow Homes also accepts that the actions it takes in meeting
the requirements of the DDA and its adoption of the social model
of disability contribute towards achieving the various levels of the
Equality Standard that Hounslow Council, as other national and
local authorities, are aiming to meet.

Hounslow Homes will also be feeding information regarding
disability equality initiatives into Hounslow Council’s Equality and
Community Cohesion Plan 2004-07 and the Community Plan.

In addition, Hounslow Homes will also feed information into
Hounslow Council’s data that is submitted to the Audit Commission
regarding Best Value indicators re disability, the CPA assessments
as well as Hounslow Council’s own Disability Equality Scheme,
thereby meeting national legislation and performance targets.

Our Structures

To ensure that Hounslow Homes meets both the general and
specific duties under the DDA 2005, other relevant disabilities
legislation and good practice guidelines advocated by the
Disabilities Rights Commission, Hounslow Homes has produced a
detailed Disability Equality Scheme Action Plan 2006-9
(Appendix 1). This action plan has been developed with full
involvement of disabled tenants, leaseholders and staff during the
last six months, with full involvement from Hounslow Homes own
Disability Forum, HFTRA, Disability Network Hounslow, Hounslow
Council’s Disability Community Forum, responses invited from
Hounslow’s community and voluntary organisations aswell as by
holding various focus group meetings within the borough.



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The two internal groups established in 2004 within Hounslow
Homes to monitor quarterly the progress of annual disability
equality action plans will now continue to monitor and evaluate the
Disability Equality Scheme Action Plan 2006-9:

     Disability Strategic Group (DSG)
     Disability Working Group (DWG)

The DSG, will continue to be chaired by the Director of Corporate
Services and made up of membership comprising of Directors of
the three divisions in Hounslow Homes, a disabled Board member,
the Equalities Manager, the Best Value Manager & our voluntary
partner, with whom Hounslow Homes has a Service Level
Agreement - Disability Network Hounslow. This group will continue
to evaluate & resolve strategic & budgetary issues to ensure the
progress of disability equality within Hounslow Homes and will take
overall ownership of Hounslow Homes meeting the disability
equality duty.

The operational group, the DWG, will continue to comprise of
specific task responsible officers, a disabled representative from
Hounslow’s Federation of Tenants & Residents Association
(HFTRA) as well as disabled tenants to monitor and implement the
progress of Disability Equality Scheme Action Plan within
Hounslow Homes. The Terms of Reference for these internal two
groups are attached to this scheme (Appendix 2).

The Disability Forum will also monitor and receive regular updates
on the progress of disability equality within Hounslow Homes. This
forum was established in 2004, and comprises of disabled tenants
& leaseholders who meet bi-monthly. It is a consultative forum,
which operates within the decision making framework detailed in
the Resident Involvement Strategy, the Tenants Compact and the
Disability Equality Scheme itself with the aim of enabling disabled
tenants and leaseholders to influence service delivery in Hounslow
Homes.

Hounslow Homes also greatly values the involvement of the
voluntary sector, hence the Service Level Agreement between
Hounslow Homes and the local voluntary organisation, Disability
Network Hounslow (DNH) will continue to be renewed annually.
DNH will provide specialist advice and support to ensure Hounslow



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Homes meets the disability equality duty and follows good
practice.

The above monitoring and evaluation processes will be in addition
to regular Equality Impact Assessments conducted on new and
existing functions and policies within Hounslow Homes and
progress reports produced for Board members in Hounslow
Homes.

Monitoring & Evaluation

Hounslow Homes has been able to map current performance and
identify further actions needed due to quarterly monitoring and
annual evaluation of Hounslow Homes Disability Equality Action
Plans using the above named structures, since 2004. This process
has allowed Hounslow Homes to measure our delivery on disability
equality and assess our performance and priorities.

Hounslow Homes is also developing methods to monitor the take-
up of its services by tenants and leaseholders with a disability.
The results of the monitoring process will be fed back into the
process of service review and policy development.

Although the DSG, DWG & the Disability Forum will continue to
monitor & evaluate Hounslow Homes Disability Equality Scheme,
Hounslow Homes will also systematically undertake disability
equality impact assessments, to ensure Hounslow Homes
activities do not disadvantage disabled people in any way and that
equality of opportunity is promoted. If an assessment identifies an
adverse impact, gap or missed opportunity, then Hounslow Homes
will seek to remedy this situation by deciding on actions needed to
make improvements, both to new policies and activities as well as
for existing ones. The “Hounslow Homes Guidance of Equality
Impact Assessments,” details the methods to be used by
managers and senior officers to conduct impact assessments.




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The Disability Equality Duty & Hounslow Homes

1. Asset Management - Inclusive Design

Hounslow Homes is using inclusive design principles in its revised
Asset Management Strategy. Hounslow Homes will ensure that
any new properties build by the organisation adopt inclusive
design as the over riding principle in planning, building and
managing housing so that all residents are able to participate
equally, confidently and independently in everyday activities.

By incorporating the principle of inclusive design, Hounslow
Homes can expect to have a housing stock with a long useful life,
lower levels of expenditure needed to adapt and improve as needs
and expectations change and greater satisfaction amongst its
residents.

Hounslow Homes will also consider accessibility when devising
building strategies, including estate refurbishment and when
undertaking any building projects.

Any new build properties by Hounslow Homes will also aim to
meet the:
         Lifetime Homes standard
         Eco Homes standard
         Parker Morris minimum space standards

The “Decent Estates” programme will continue, following the
successful completion of the “Decent Homes” programme by
Hounslow Homes ensuring that building and environmental issues
beyond the basic requirements of Decent Homes are addressed.
The programme will work outward from the common building
facilities (stairways, lobbies, refuse disposal, etc.), to the external
environment. So that that the appearance and reputation of our
buildings and estates are enhanced and anti-social behaviour is
reduced.

Services that are procured by Hounslow Homes will be monitored
and evaluated to ensure that no adverse impact is experienced by
disabled customers through awarding of services to contractors.
This forms part of Hounslow Homes aim to build sustainable
housing and thereby Sustainable Communities on council estates
in Hounslow.


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Adaptations

Existing council properties that need adaptations will continue to
serviced by Hounslow Homes in-house Adaptations Team.
Following needs assessments, Hounslow Homes will install aids
and make adaptations to council properties, where a tenant has
problems that permanently affect his/her ability to move around
their home. Where eligibility criteria is not met or waiting time is
extensive, information will be given about other options available.
Hounslow Homes will continue to meet with Social Services on a
quarterly basis to monitor adaptations undertaken.

Repairs ordered by disabled customers are already prioritised to
ensure the delivery of an equal service. Hounslow Homes
acknowledges that often the impact of waiting for a repair is much
greater on the disabled person than a non-disabled person.




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2. Our Services

Accessibility:

Buildings - The organisation will continue to make ‘’reasonable
adjustments’’ to ensure disabled clients have physical access to
our services at our main housing offices which include wheelchair
access and accessible toilets. Hounslow Homes has carried out
comprehensive access audits of all its public buildings. The
organisation has also undertaken access audits on all its sheltered
accommodation to make the accommodation DDA compliant, and
thereby fully accessible for elderly tenants, some of whom have a
disability. This will ensure full accessibility of all public properties
managed on behalf of Hounslow Council by Hounslow Homes and
is in accordance with the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, part
III.

Information & Communication– Hounslow Homes will continue
to ensure that information is accessible for all customers, by
continuing to publicise its two clear and simple Staff Guide’s for
new and existing staff, (Appendix 3):

      Staff Guide – Writing to Residents
      Staff Guide – On using translations & interpretation services
      to meet the needs of our customers.

The first guide details good practice guidelines that staff must
follow when writing to customers such as the use of Arial 14 as
standard. The second guide explains to staff how to arrange
information & letters in alternative formats & community languages
for disabled customers as well as explain when and how staff
should use the Translation Unit at LBH, Language Line or
Hounslow Homes own in-house alternative formats service.

In addition, Hounslow Homes will continue to publicise its updated
leaflet “Accessing Hounslow Homes Services – Communicating
with you,” (Appendix 4) to disabled customers so that they are
aware of the different range of ways Hounslow Homes and
disabled customers can converse with each other e.g. via audio
tapes to our website. With the aim of making Hounslow Homes as
accessible as possible, for our service users.




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Furthermore, the organisation will continue to disseminate
information by “tailoring” production of Hounslow Homes News (bi-
monthly newsletter) in the preferred format or language requested
by each service user upon request, thereby improving accessibility
and engagement between each tenant and leaseholder and
Hounslow Homes.

Hounslow Homes twelve key documents (including the Tenancy
Agreement, Tenants Handbook, Accessing Hounslow Homes
Services etc) are also available in alternative formats and are
located in the four housing receptions. An annual publications list
will continue to be mailed to all tenants & leaseholders so that they
are aware of all leaflets/publications produced by Hounslow
Homes.

Following a thorough audit commissioned by Hounslow Homes of
the current availability, use and condition of communications &
auxiliary equipment in Hounslow Homes, the organisation has
purchased the recommended communication aids and will
continue to train front line staff in the correct use of communication
aids equipment such as type text phones, loop systems etc. to
further improve communication.

Knowing our Customers Project

Hounslow Homes will continue to accurately ascertain each
tenants and leaseholders individual communication and disability
access need, as part of our “Knowing Our Customers” Project.
This information is key to Hounslow Homes providing a good
quality housing service. This information will continue to be
recorded on the housing management system (CRM), with the aim
of allowing future correspondence between Hounslow Homes and
the tenant or leaseholder to occur in the service user’s preferred
format or language, whenever possible. Production of alternative
formats will continue to be carried out by staff using the cost
efficient in-house service whenever possible. Community
languages will be ascertained from the Translation & Interpretation
Service in Hounslow Council.

Vulnerability & Supporting People

Hounslow Homes defines vulnerability as when “tenants or
members of their household experience life factors which increase
vulnerability to loss of accommodation or independent living.”

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Disabled tenants who meet this criteria will be included on the
confidential vulnerability database and supported in accordance
with Hounslow Homes “Vulnerable Policy & Strategy.”

Hounslow Homes staff will also continue to identify and refer
vulnerable tenants and leaseholders who may in addition be
disabled and need support with housing matters and living
independently to Hounslow Council’s Supporting People Team, as
well as to the Community Alarm Service, Linkline, when requested.

Furthermore all Sheltered Scheme Managers will continue to
complete and review six-monthly (or earlier if circumstances
change), a confidential Support Plan, identifying any assistance
needed by tenants residing in Hounslow Homes managed
Sheltered Units, in accordance with the “Support Planning
Procedure.” Hounslow Homes has evidenced its strive to provide
better services by attaining the Sheltered Housing Code of
Practice Accreditation.

Harassment & Anti-Social Behaviour Policies & Practices

Disabled tenants or leaseholders who report to Hounslow Homes
that they have experienced anti-social behaviour, harassment or
domestic violence will continue to be supported in accordance with
Hounslow Homes “Racial Harassment and Anti-Social Behaviour
Policy & Procedure,” and the “Domestic Violence Policy &
Procedure” until the anti-social behaviour ceases. Any such cases
will be investigated and monitored by the Hounslow Homes Anti-
Social Behaviour team.

The ASB team will also conduct impact assessments on existing
policies to ensure there is no adverse impact on disabled victims
and allege perpetrators of anti-social behaviour.

Lettings & Allocations

Disabled tenants who move into council accommodation or
wish/need to transfer will, when requested, be prioritised to
transfer into adapted properties, which meet their individual needs
as part of the Lettings and Transfer Scheme. Allocations & lettings
will continue to be the responsibility of Hounslow Council and will
be administered by the Re-housing Unit within the Council.




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Hounslow Homes will improve its property database by
establishing categories to ascertain if a property is purpose built for
disabled people, wheelchair accessible, has had adaptations
carried out in the property or has the ability of becoming
accessible.

This will aid the Re-housing Unit, to better match properties with
the needs of a disabled person. Disabled homeseekers and
transfer applicants will continue to be able to bid for adapted
properties via “Locata” - the choice-based lettings system, which
Hounslow Council operates. If they are unable to bid, the Re-
housing Unit will make direct offers if the applicant is unable to bid
or the applicant has been waiting for a specific property/area to
ensure best use of the property is made. Therefore disabled
applicants have the opportunity to bid via Locata or be monitored
by identified officers for a direct offer in parallel, if appropriate.

Front line staff in Hounslow Homes will receive specialist training
on providing support for disabled & vulnerable people to better
utilise Locata. Hounslow Homes will also work with the Re-housing
Unit on the joint Locata Action Plan, to ensure that bids by
applicants are monitored. Locata Partners also monitor a Joint
Action Plan to ensure that vulnerable groups including disabled
applicants take full advantage of the choice based lettings scheme.

Customer Complaints

Any disabled tenant or leaseholder who is unhappy with the
services that Hounslow Homes, its partners or contractors have
delivered and/or when the staff responsible have not been able to
resolve the matter to the customer’s satisfaction, can make a
complaint via various channels such as email, phone, letter,
website etc. The process is detailed in the leaflet “How to
Complain about Hounslow Homes”.

Hounslow Homes customer complaints software system can
record if a complainant has a disability via the return of the
Complaints Satisfaction Form, as well as ascertain if a complainant
believes he/she has been discriminated against by Hounslow
Homes due to their disability. Which is investigated in stages,
initially by the service manager, the complaints team, and finally by
board members at Stage 3 of Hounslow Homes complaints
procedures, if the complaint has not been resolved to the
complainants satisfaction. An evaluation report is submitted to the

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Board annually which details any complaints made by customers
that they have been unlawfully discriminated against by Hounslow
Homes due to their disability.

3. Employment & Governance

Employment

The disability equality duty makes public bodies responsible for
promoting equality for disabled people through a public body’s
employment practices and policies including recruitment; retention;
training; appraisals; flexible working policies; harassment/bullying
& grievance procedures. The Human Resources section will
conduct impact assessments on our employment policies and
procedures to ensure no adverse impact is experienced by
disabled people. The organisation will also continue to gather
evidence about how many disabled staff the organisation employs,
their career development and retention of such staff by producing
quarterly up-to-date workforce monitoring information.

Evaluation will also take place to identify whether positive action
taken by Hounslow Homes such as the use of the “Positive About
Disability” symbol in job adverts is effective in increasing
applications from disabled people.

Hounslow Homes will continue to monitor “reasonable
adjustments” undertaken by the organisation for staff who meet the
DDA definition & investigate any cases where disabled staff
believe they have been discriminated against by Hounslow Homes
due to their disability under the Grievance procedure &
Harassment At Work procedure.

Governance

The Hounslow Homes Board comprising of fifteen members does
include members who have a disability. Nevertheless Hounslow
Homes will further seek to increase representation of disabled
members on the Board to not only meet the duty to encourage the
participation of disabled people in public life, but also to better
reflect the profile of our customers and pursue good practice.

Hounslow Homes will continue to be fully attentive of its policies
and practices around appointing board members and running of
board meetings to ensure no barriers are being created for

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disabled people who may wish to become board members.
Hounslow Homes does this by holding meetings in a accessible
building which has disabled parking, having pre-arranged breaks
within meetings & providing board reports in alternative formats
etc.

The board includes a representative from HFTRA, the body
representing all tenant and resident associations in Hounslow,
which includes disabled tenants amongst its association.

Reasonable adjustments are routinely made for board members &
HFTRA tenant representatives when required.

4. The Enabling Role

The enabling role – devising, implementing and monitoring the
Housing Strategy and facilitating development and regeneration
activities will remain the responsibility of Hounslow Council’s
Housing & Community Services Department. The department will
need to ensure that the housing and support needs and
aspirations of disabled people are considered and met. Hounslow
Homes will continue to meet its landlord duties in respect of the
housing stock which has been delegated to the organisation by
Hounslow Council.

Homelessness issues/cases and providing housing advice to
disabled people will also remain the responsibility of Hounslow
Council thorough its Housing & Community Services department.

Conclusion

Through production of its Disability Equality Scheme (and action
plan 2006-9), Hounslow Homes welcomes the positive duty to
promote disability equality.

The organisation recognises the need for robust regular
monitoring, evaluating and reviewing of its policies & procedures to
ensure no adverse impact is experienced by disabled people. It
welcomes challenges from, and the involvement of, its disabled
staff and customers in this process.

In this way Hounslow Homes aims to meet the disability equality
duty and provide fully accessible services that are tailored to meet


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the needs of Hounslow’s diverse communities, including disabled
staff, tenants and leaseholders.




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Further Information

Further information about the scheme and the action plan can be
obtained by contacting the Equalities Team at:

Equalities Team
Hounslow Homes
St Catherine’s House
2 Hanworth Road
Feltham
TW14 5AB

Tel – 020 8583 3762
Email – customerservicecentre@hounslowhomes.org.uk
www.hounslowhomes.org.uk

The Equalities Team welcomes your views and comments.



Accessible Information

The Disability Equality Scheme is available in other languages and
alternative formats such as braille upon request. Please call
Hounslow Homes on 0800 085 6575 or via the minicom number
0800 389 9821 if you would like to receive a copy of this document
in a different language or format.




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