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Housing Ombudsman Complaint Handling Code:

Self-assessment form

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 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
  • 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
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?

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?
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 timescaleAt 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
  • 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?
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

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

5. Cooperation with Housing Ombudsman Service



Were all requests for evidence responded to
within 15 days?

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?

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?

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



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

8. Continuous learning and improvement




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.


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

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

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
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.