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Housing Ombudsman self-assessment


Publication of the Self-Assessment against the Housing Ombudsman’s Complaints Handling Code

The Housing Ombudsman has unveiled a new ‘Complaint Handling Code’. The purpose of the code is to enable the swift resolution of complaints, providing clarity for customers and the opportunity to learn for landlords.

The code also promotes the need for proactive communication about the complaints service offered and easy access for customers, as well as the fair, timely management of complaints that focusses on a resolution for the customer.

At Wrekin, we welcome the new Complaints Handling Code and have carried out a self-assessment against the code as requested by the Housing Ombudsman. We are proud to say that we are already complying with the code in most areas and in many cases our complaints service is already being delivered to a higher standard than required in the code, particularly in the speed of response. There are also some areas for us to improve.

Our aim is to provide an excellent service to our customers at all times, but sometimes despite our best efforts, occasionally things can and do go wrong and if they do we want to put it right, as soon as we can, to our customers satisfaction.

If something goes wrong and you want us to do something about it, even if it’s just an apology, please let us know. In the same way, if you think we have done a great job, we’d like to know that as well, so we can pass this on to the people who’ve delivered that service.

The code sets out requirements for member landlords that will ensure that complaint handling is consistent across all of the landlord members which includes Housing Associations, Local Authorities and Arm’s Length Management Organisations (ALMOs).

The code is also a guide for residents setting out what they can and should expect from their landlord when they complain.

You can find the Housing Ombudsman Complaints Handling Code here

You can find our Self-Assessment against the code below

If you ever need to raise a complaint with us, or share a compliment, you can do this by email to complaints@wrekin.com or by telephoning 01952 217100. Further details are also available on our complaints page.

Feedback Welcome

We would also welcome any feedback you may have on our self-assessment, you can do this by taking part in our survey (open until 28 February 2021), by emailing complaints@wrekin.com or by telephoning 01952 217100.

The Wrekin Housing Group self-assessment

Compliance with the Complaint Handling Code

1

Definition of a Complaint

Yes

No

a

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.

b

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

c

Are these exclusions reasonable and fair to residents?

Evidence relied upon?

· Tenant Panel Approved Group the Complaints Policy & Inappropriate Behaviour Procedure Sept 2020

· Compliance with exclusions within the Code

2

Accessibility

a

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

b

Is the complaints policy and procedure available online?

c

Do we have a reasonable adjustments policy?

d

Do we regularly advise residents about our complaints process?

3

Complaints team & process

a

Is there a complaint officer or equivalent in post?

b

Does the complaint officer have autonomy to resolve complaints?

c

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

d

If there is a third stage to the complaints procedure are residents involved in the decision making?

e

Is any third stage optional for residents?

f

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

g

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

h

At what stage are most complaints resolved?

Stage 1

4

Communication

a

Are residents kept informed and updated during the complaints process?

b

Are residents informed of the landlord's position and given a chance to respond and challenge any area of dispute before the final decision?

c

Are all complaints acknowledged and logged within five days?

All complaints are logged on the same day as received, 85% are acknowledged within 5 days.

Action – Training on the code and importance of compliance is being carried out with all Responsible Managers and will be completed by 31/12/20

83%

d

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

e

What proprtion of complaints are resolved at stage 1?

99%

f

What proportion of complaints are resolved at stage 2?

This represents only two cases, one which was resolved and one went to stage 3.

50%

g

What proportion of complaint responses are sent within code timescales?

· Stage one (10 days)

· Stage one with extension (10 days) Not recorded

· Stage 2 (20 days)

· Stage 2 with extension (10 days)

Action:

· Training on the code and importance of compliance is being carried out with all Responsible Managers and will be completed by 31/12/20.

· Complaints IT system to be updated to ensure that all information is captured to accurately demonstrate compliance with the categories of the Code.

N/A

100%

48%

h

Where timescales have been extended did we have good reason?

Action - Complaints IT system to be updated ensuring that information is captured for all timescales and any reasons for delay

i

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

j

What proportion of complaints do we resolve to residents' satisfaction

95%

5

Cooperation with Housing Ombudsman Service

a

Were all requests for evidence responded to within 15 days?

b

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

6

Fairness in complaint handling

a

Are residents able to complain via a representative throughout?

b

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

c

How many cases did we refuse to escalate?

None

d

Did we explain our decision to the resident?

7

Outcomes & remedies

a

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

8

Continuous learning & improvement

a

What improvements have we made as a result of learning from complaints? Below are detailed some examples:

Right to Acquire & Right to Buy Policy: clarified to cover sale exemptions. Tenancy Agreement reworded, also for clarification on sale exemptions. Housing Management system updated to alert officers where sale exemptions on a property exist.

Driveways: Policy on driveway maintenance clarified and communicated to teams. Provision for ongoing maintenance where Group responsibility to be included within Business Plan and Asset Management Strategy.

Mutual Exchanges: Misunderstanding by Maintenance Supervisors and Trades on the timescales for carrying out repairs following a mutual exchange addressed resulting in improvements to repairs completion times following mutual exchanges.

Communication: Introduction of Senior Customer Executives within the Customer Contact Centre to improve communication throughout the repairs process.

Repairs scheduling: Further improvements to the in-house repairs scheduling system which has improved the completed on same day performance for the customer.

Gas repairs: Improvement of the Cadre system to give Gas engineers more information when on site about previous repairs to assist with diagnostics and therefore less call outs for customers.

PPE: Produced You tube video on what PPE will be worn by trades, to address customer expectations. This information is now sent out by SMS just prior to the trade attending the property along with other Covid safe information.

b

How do we share these lessons with:

a) Residents?

The Customer Voice Panel (CVP) Performance monitoring framework has been revised in consultation with the CVP to include greater reporting of complaints and the lessons from complaints in each quarter. A summary of this information will also be placed on the website.

Action: At the end of the year a summary of performance and learning from complaints for the whole year will be included in the Annual Report to Tenants, and published by 2021.

b) The board & governing body?

Complaints are reported to the CVP. The WHG Board Chair and two other Board members sit on the CVP.

Action: Quarterly reports on performance and lessons learned will be reported to the new Service Quality Committee with an annual report made to Board.

c) In the annual report?

Action: The summary of complaints and learning from complaints that will appear in the Annual report to Tenants to be replicated within the Annual Report and Statutory Accounts document.

c

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

d

What changes have we made?

· Introduced a Designated Complaints officer role

· Increased the focus on the existing, quick response, resolution based complaints handling culture

· Improved the focus on learning outcomes from complaints

· Approved a new Group Complaints Policy & Procedure

· Improved the external reporting to our residents through our website

· Introduced further measures to better demonstrate compliance with both the HOS Code and the new Group Policy

· Reviewed, and will be introducing a revised Complaints Performance Management Framework.