At the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, we had no idea what to expect, and there was a great deal of uncertainty about how COVID-19 might affect our colleagues, our customers, and our business.

When the Government announced the Furlough scheme to support businesses and avoid potential redundancy across all industries, it wasn't known which businesses would be most affected. We decided to access the Furlough scheme as we too were unsure how our business would be affected, and it was prudent to ensure we took advantage of the scheme for staff who could not undertake their role or be temporarily transferred to alternative roles.

Board debated whether it was appropriate for a financially strong, socially responsible housing association like Progress to claim such monies. We decided to apply on the basis that once we knew more about the impact, we could always repay the monies if thought to be the right thing to do.

Board has now reviewed our situation, as it is now much clearer to us how COVID-19 has affected us and decided we should repay the monies to the Government for a number of reasons.

1. We are a financially strong organisation.

2. The Furlough scheme was to save jobs from redundancy, and we have not had any roles at risk of redundancy due to COVID-19.

3. Our services and offer to tenants has not been reduced. In fact, our support offer has been increased during the pandemic.

4. We are taking advantage of other new funding to provide new support for our customers into employment.

5. Our strong social values suggest other organisations need this support from the Government and we have a moral duty not to claim monies where it is not needed to avoid redundancy.

6. Other housing organisations are also considering their position and making appropriate decisions.

This decision will not affect any payments to staff or any services being provided to tenants.

Administering and managing the Furlough scheme has been a significant amount of work for a several colleagues. Thank you for your support in this matter; we hope this note helps everyone understand why we have made these decisions.

Key Unlocking Futures will make a separate decision as their specific financial position requires additional consideration.

If you have any queries, please do contact your manager/ director.

Jacqui