Housing Ombudsman Complaint Handling Code:

Self-assessment form

Compliance with the Complaint Handling Code

1. Definition of a complaint

Yes

No

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.

Yes. The new Customer Feedback Policy will be launched by February 2021.

 

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

Yes

 

Are these exclusions reasonable and fair to residents?

Evidence relied upon

Yes. Exclusions listed within the Customer Feedback Policy have an alternative process or published policy

The Customer Feedback Policy has been subject to an Equality Impact Assessment.

Examples of what is not considered a complaint include:

  • An initial request for a service
  • Asking for an explanation of a policy or an information leaflet
  • An appeal against a decision
  • A neighbour dispute which is dealt with through terms outlined in a tenancy agreement or the Anti-Social Behaviour policy
  • Where a complainant is taking legal action against GPHG on the same issue or GPHG is taking legal action against the complainant on the same issue for which GPHG is not responsible
  • Complaints submitted six months or more after the issue occurred
  • MP, Councillor and Citizen Advice enquiries (handled by the CFT)
  • Complaints relating to rent increases (driven by government guidance/ regulation)
  • Reports of fly tipping or vandalism
  • Complaints about the actions of an organisation that is not working for, or supported by GPHG
  • Where the expectation of the customer is beyond the services the Group is able to provide 

Although we do not treat these issues as a complaint under this Policy, we are committed to dealing with them in the appropriate manner.

 

2. Accessibility

 Yes

 

No

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

Yes

 

Is the complaints policy and procedure available online?

Yes. The new Customer Feedback Policy will be available by February 2021

 

Do we have a reasonable adjustments policy?

Yes

 

Do we regularly advise residents about our complaints process?

Yes

 

3. Complaints team and process

 

Yes

 No

Is there a complaint officer or equivalent in post?

Yes

 

Does the complaint officer have autonomy to resolve complaints?

Yes

 

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?

 

N/A

Is any third stage optional for residents?

 

N/A

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

 

4. Communication

 Yes

 No

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?

Yes

 

Are all complaints acknowledged and logged within five days?

Yes

 

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

Yes

 

What proportion of complaints are resolved at stage one?

Legacy Great Places:

For the period April to October 2020, there were 56 stage one complaints of which only one was escalated to stage 2 (review stage). 35 Complaints were resolved at stage 1. The remaining 20 are pending outcome

Legacy Equity:

Over the same time period, April to October 2020, most complaints were resolved at stage one. Of 36 complaints, 32 were settled at stage one and subsequently closed.

In order to reduce the number of formal complaints we handle expressions of dissatisfaction or NIPs, within 48 hours. NIPs are not a formal complaint, but may result in learning opportunities for us as an organisation, or simply as an opportunity for excellent customer service.

 

What proportion of complaints are resolved at stage two?

See above

 

What proportion of complaint responses are sent within Code timescales?

  • Stage one
    Stage one (with extension)
  • Stage two
    Stage two (with extension)

For legacy Great Places, extensions are agreed with the customer.

Great Places operate a 15 working day response time. Of the cases above 26 were dealt inside the given timescale. 12 were answered outside of this timescale

At legacy Equity, extensions are agreed with the customer. All the complaints identified above were sent within 10 working days.

All stage 2 and any extensions were sent within timescales.

 

Where timescales have been extended did we have good reason?

Yes and this is communicated to the customer. Time scales for a response to be provided to a customer may be extended for a number of reasons. Examples include:

  • Waiting for third parties (e.g. builders) to respond.
  • The completion of repair work, to resolve a complaint may extend beyond the 10 working day timescale.
  • Staff absence impact - e.g. a case recently, whereby the Property Services Officer was unavailable to carry out an inspection on a property within the timeframe.
  • The Covid pandemic has created challenges in relation to staffing and restrictions in our approaches. Communication has been vital to ensure this is managed properly.
  • Customers may also change appointments made with a view to resolve or understand a complaint due to other commitments.
 

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

Yes

 

What proportion of complaints do we resolve to residents' satisfaction

We will continue to evaluate the percentage of people who do not escalate their complaint to stage two as an indicator of complaint handling effectiveness. As a result of this self assessment we will be developing additional measures to ensure a more robust approach to demonstrating effectiveness.

*Legacy Great Places:

For the period April to October 2020, there were 56 stage one complaints of which only one was escalated to stage 2 (review stage). 35 Complaints were resolved at stage 1. The remaining 20 are pending outcome

*Legacy Equity:

Over the same time period, April to October 2020, most complaints were resolved at stage one. Of 36 complaints, 32 were settled at stage one and subsequently closed. Four cases were escalated.

Previous methodologies have relied upon customer satisfaction reporting (low response rates). We will consider how best to capture satisfaction going forward. We currently monitor the speed of complaint resolution and for the period April to October 2020 Legacy Great Places report an average of 15 days to resolve complaints and Legacy Equity report 7.7 days.

We will incorporate this feedback in our reporting to Board going forward via the Customer Experience dashboard.

 

5. Cooperation with Housing Ombudsman Service

Yes

No

Were all requests for evidence responded to within 15 days?

Yes.

Cases that require evidence, request this within 20 working days. All HOS responses were within timescales specified by the HOS

 

Where the timescale was extended did we keep the Ombudsman informed?

N/A

 

6. Fairness in complaint handling

 Yes

 No

Are residents able to complain via a representative throughout?

Yes

 

If advice was given, was this accurate and easy to understand?

Yes

 

How many cases did we refuse to escalate?

What was the reason for the refusal?

At legacy Great Places there is currently one case awaiting additional information in order to escalate the case. Information has not been received to date.

For legacy Equity, two customers requested to escalate to stage 3 and were refused. One customer asked to escalate to stage 2 and was refused. Following review by another manager it was deemed that there were no grounds to escalate, as our response would remain the same. This was communicated to the customer in writing. The customer was advised that they had reached the end of the feedback process and were sign-posted to the HOS.

 

Did we explain our decision to the resident?

Yes, in writing/email as requested,

 

7. Outcomes and remedies

Yes

No

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

Yes

 

8. Continuous learning and improvement

 

Yes

No

What improvements have we made as a result of learning from complaints?

Learning from complaints was factored into an independent service review undertaken by The Leadership Factor (TLF) in in 2019. As a result the approach to complaints handling at Great Places has been revised and a new service delivery model and team structure agreed.

As part of our new Customer Feedback Policy we will be tracking complaints in a systematic way.

For legacy Equity we have previously used the complaints tracker as a learning tool. A monthly report is made available to managers which provide learning outcomes for each month.

Some learning examples from feedback include:

Reflecting the voice of the customer in service reviews through our business transformation process. This involves surveying customers about what is important to them for particular services, and comparing this to how satisfied they are with this element of the service and then putting improvements in place to address the gaps.

Maintenance:

In 2019 we received a number of complaints from customers about their poor experience with one of our significant maintenance contractors. Following a number of attempts to address the issue, this lead to the contract being mutually terminated and a new contractor being appointed.

The service specification for the new contractor reflected on the issues of customer care, communication, availability of parts and performance reporting which had been highlighted from customer feedback

Revised repairs protocol for supported customers.

Development: Improved communication from the developer regarding schedule of works from the management agency.

Rent: Improved monitoring of rent credits.

 

How do we share these lessons with:

a) residents?

b) the board/governing body?

c) in the Annual Report?

Yes, we inform residents about specific improvements in relation to their complaint via direct communication.

Great Places includes improvements in our annual report, which is presented to the Board.

A revised Customer experience dashboard will be included in board reporting in 2021 and will include lessons learnt from feedback

 

Has the Code made a difference to how we respond to complaints?

Yes, the Code has informed the new Customer Feedback Policy for Great Places.

 

What changes have we made?

Great Places Customer Feedback Team has undergone a thorough process of redesign as part of the merger with Equity Housing and incorporating feedback from the review by TLF in 2019. The changes implemented encompass the alignment of policy, take on board guidance issued as part of the new Ombudsman Code of Practice and include a new central team and reduced resolution times.

 

* Legacy GP and legacy Equity refers to our pre-merger organisations which were two separate entities. At this time two distinct complaints processes were running in tandem. The new complaints process and Customer Feedback Policy to be launched by February 2021 will address this and take full account of the new Housing Ombudsman Complaint Handling Code.