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Housing Ombudsman Complaint Handling Code:

Self-assessment form – December 2021

Compliance with the Complaint Handling Code

1. 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.

Yes. The new Customer Feedback policy was launched in May 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




Are multiple accessibility routes available for
residents to make a complaint?
Is the complaints policy and procedure available
Do we have a reasonable adjustments policy? Yes
Do we regularly advise residents about our
complaints process?

3. Complaints team and process




Is there a complaint officer or equivalent in
Does the complaint officer have autonomy to
resolve complaints?
Does the complaint officer have authority to
compel engagement from other departments to resolve disputes?
If there is a third stage to the complaints
procedure are residents involved in the decision making?
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?
Do we keep a record of complaint correspondence
including correspondence from the resident?
At what stage are most complaints resolved? Stage One

4. Communication



Are residents kept informed and updated during
the complaints process?
Are residents informed of the landlord’s position
and given a chance to respond and challenge any area of dispute before the
final decision?
Are all complaints acknowledged and logged within
five days?
Are residents advised of how to escalate at the end
of each stage?
What proportion of complaints are resolved at
stage one?
What proportion of complaints are resolved at
stage two?
19% of Stage One complaints were progressed and investigated at Stage Two of our feedback process
What proportion of complaint responses are sent
within Code timescales?

  • Stage one
    Stage one (with extension)
  • Stage two
    Stage two (with extension)
Stage One: 89%

Stage Two: 80%

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.
  • Colleague  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 colleague resources 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?
What proportion of complaints do we resolve to
residents’ satisfaction
We are satisfied that we resolve complaints to customer satisfaction and in order to monitor the service we are offering, we are piloting a new end of complaint satisfaction survey. Feedback will be reviewed to identify learning and any necessary improvements. We will review the Customer Feedback policy in February 2022 to ensure that learning outcomes are considered within the policy and associated procedures.

5. Cooperation with Housing Ombudsman Service



Were all requests for evidence responded to
within 15 days?
All responses were provided within the timescales specified by the HOS and those that required an extension were responded to within the allowed extension timescale
Where the timescale was extended did we keep the
Ombudsman informed?

6. Fairness in complaint handling



Are residents able to complain via a
representative throughout?
If advice was given, was this accurate and easy
to understand?
How many cases did we refuse to escalate?

What was the reason for the refusal?

We have not refused to progress any complaints to the next stage of our complaints process  N/A
Did we explain our decision to the resident? Yes, in writing/email as requested,  N/A

7. Outcomes and remedies



Where something has gone wrong are we taking
appropriate steps to put things right?
Yes. We have introduced a Service Improvement Tracker to allow us to capture learning outcomes following complaints. This is continually monitored to ensure continuous improvement following complaint handling. This will be reported to a formal Customer Experience service meeting once a quarter and is included in our Customer Experience Dashboard which is reported to Board and Audit & Assurance Committee.

8. Continuous learning and improvement




What improvements have we made as a result of
learning from complaints?
Learning from complaints is paramount and

as part of our new Customer Feedback Policy we are tracking complaints in a systematic way.

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.

Complaint Case Reviews

We have held a number of complaint case reviews in 2021 which have influenced the actions raised on the Service Improvement Tracker. Examples of improvements made include plans to offer specialist training around autism to front line; clearer guidance on housing management systems relating to customer disabilities, customer referrals to the Tenancy Coach service. Other examples include clearer guidance for customers around fire safety at the sign up stage of a tenancy, clearer signage at schemes relating to fire safety and evacuation processes. Further to complaints relating to a recent fire door replacement programme we will introduce a robust Customer Involvement toolkit to support teams around consulting with customers in relation to investment and improvement works.

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 quarterly Customer Voice reports and in our annual report, which is presented to the Board

A revised Customer experience dashboard was included in Board reporting in 2021 and includes 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 and Procedures 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.

We have recently expanded the Customer Feedback team to include an additional Complaints Co-ordinator and have created a new Customer Feedback Team Leader role. The introduction of a Team Leader allows additional support with overseeing, reporting and tracking during all stages of complaint case management.

The Team Leader also carries out regular case reviews which allows Great Places to continually learn and implement improvements following customer feedback.