Housing Ombudsman Complaints Code - self-assessment

Compliance with the complaint handling code

Definition of a complaint

Does the complaints process use the following definition of a complaint: An expression of dissatisfaction, however made, about the standard of service, actions or lack of action by the organisation, its own staff, or those acting on its behalf, affecting an individual resident or group of residents?
No, but we do have a very similar one. Ours states: "A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction, however made, about the standard of service, action or lack of action by the council or its staff, affecting an individual customer or a group of customers.” This is because we’re a local authority rather than an organisation that deals solely with housing.

Does the policy have exclusions where a complaint will not be considered? 
Yes 

Are these exclusions reasonable and fair to residents?
Yes. They only apply where there are other routes available. For example, to request a housing repair or a where the resident has already been notified of a repair and the repair is awaiting action within the agreed timescale.

Accessibility

Are multiple accessibility routes available for residents to make a complaint? 
Yes

Is the complaints policy and procedure available online? 
Yes 

Do we have a reasonable adjustments policy?
No but this is information is contained in our Equal Opportunities Policy

Do we regularly advise residents about our complaints process? 
Yes 

Complaints team and process

Is there a complaint officer or equivalent in post? 
Yes

Does the complaint officer have autonomy to resolve complaints?  
No

Does the complaint officer have authority to compel engagement from other departments to resolve disputes? 
Yes

If there is a third stage to the complaints procedure are residents involved in the decision making?
Not applicable

Is any third stage optional for residents?
Not applicable

Does the final stage response set out residents’ right to refer the matter to the Housing Ombudsman Service? 
Yes

Do we keep a record of complaint correspondence including correspondence from the resident?
Yes 

At what stage are most complaints resolved?
Stage one

Communication

Are residents kept informed and updated during the complaints process? 
Yes

Are residents informed of the landlord’s position and given a chance to respond and challenge any area of dispute before the final decision?
No, although there is sometimes informal dialogue with the responding officer outside of the complaints process.

Are all complaints acknowledged and logged within five days?
Yes, usually acknowledged and logged within two working days.

Are residents advised of how to escalate at the end of each stage? 
Yes

What proportion of complaints are resolved at stage one?
2019/20: 78% 

What proportion of complaints are resolved at stage two?
100%

What proportion of complaint responses are sent within code timescales?

  • Stage one: 95%
  • Stage one (with extension): 5%
  • Stage two: 78% (within 10 working days) (this is based on a very low figure)
  • Stage two (with extension): 22% (although still within 20 working days as stated in the code, but outside of our stated 10 working days) (only two complaints)
    (Our stage two timescale is 10 working days, whereas the code allows 20 working days, so much better than the code.)

Where timescales have been extended did we have good reason? 
Yes

Where timescales have been extended did we keep the resident informed? 
Yes 

What proportion of complaints do we resolve to residents’ satisfaction?
This is difficult to say, but as we had no complaints with the Housing Ombudsman in 2019/20, I would suggest it’s 100%.  

Co-operation with Housing Ombudsman Service

Were all requests for evidence responded to within 15 days?
Not applicable in 2019/20. Previously, yes it was.

Where the timescale was extended did we keep the Ombudsman informed?
Not applicable

Fairness in complaint handling

Are residents able to complain via a representative throughout?
Yes, with appropriate permission for us to deal with the representative.

If advice was given, was this accurate and easy to understand? 
Not applicable

How many cases did we refuse to escalate?
None

What was the reason for the refusal?
Not applicable

Did we explain our decision to the resident?
Decision for what? Not escalating, or for the complaint outcome? 

Outcomes and remedies

Where something has gone wrong, are we taking appropriate steps to put things right?
Yes

Continuous learning and improvement

What improvements have we made as a result of learning from complaints?
Ended housing repairs contracts, improved processes

How do we share these lessons with:

  • Residents - These are being considered
  • The board/governing body? Annual report to senior managers and councillors

Has the code made a difference to how we respond to complaints?
Not currently, this is being reviewed.

What changes have we made? 
Not applicable

For further details on the complaints handling process and self-assessment form, please visit complaints handling code (housing-ombudsman.org.uk)

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Last updated: ‎22‎/‎01‎/‎2021‎ ‎13‎:‎25‎