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Complaints Policy

2020-2021

 

Monitoring and review

Document owner
Approved by
Authorised by
Effective date
Review date
Belinda Mulloy –
Homes Direct
Manager
Julie Haydon, AD –
Corporate Services
CSD Committee  02/11/2020 02/01/2022

 

Document history

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1.0 Purpose

1.1 Wolverhampton Homes aims to provide great homes in clean, safe neighbourhoods and to help people get on in life. We are also committed to providing a high-quality customer feedback service, dealing with complaints in a fair and impartial way.

1.2 By proactively listening to our customers and dealing with complaints about our services, we are able to make improvements based on the feedback you give us. It also allows us to manage, respond to and learn from complaints.

1.3 The policy sets out clear processes and timeframes to help you understand how we will investigate your complaint and how we will respond to you. We have developed this policy in line with dispute resolution principles recommended by the Housing Ombudsman, which are to:

  • be fair - treat people fairly and follow fair process
  • put things right
  • learn from outcomes

1.4 In a small number of cases where complainants, either individually or on behalf of someone they represent, pursue their complaint in an unreasonable and persistent way, where this is considered to be unacceptable or habitual, this is covered separately by the Unreasonable Complainant Behaviour Policy
as detailed in Section 10.

1.5 The complaints policy aims to set out a clear and fair process for the handling of complaints from all our customers relating to the services we provide.

1.6 The policy contributes to the overall aim of dealing with all complainants in a transparent, consistent, fair and reasonable way.

 

2.0 What is a complaint?

2.1 Under this policy, the definition of a complaint is:

An expression of dissatisfaction or concern by a resident or applicant about the standard of service, conduct, actions or lack of actions by Wolverhampton Homes.

 

3.0 Who can make a complaint?

3.1 You can make a complaint if you are the person who is affected by the action, or you can give consent for somebody else to act on your behalf.

3.2 Complaints can also be made by Designated Persons as defined by the Localism Act 2011. A Designated Person can be an MP, a local councillor, or a tenant panel member. They can intervene on your behalf, to help to resolve a complaint.

 

4.0 Complaints that cannot be dealt with under this policy

4.1 There are certain types of complaints that are not covered by this policy. They are:

  • anonymous complaints
  • a complaint that has already been fully investigated in line with this policy
  • a complaint made by an employee about any matter relating to their employment
  • when the issue took place more than six months ago where we have specific arrangements with you, in line with our Unreasonable Complainant Behaviour Policy
  • complaints that are being pursued in an unreasonable manner
  • the policy does not cover complaints which are subject to legal action or which are being dealt with as insurance claims

 

5.0 How to make a complaint

5.1 Information about making a complaint or giving feedback can be found on our website: https://www.wolverhamptonhomes.org.uk/contact-us/complaints-and-feedback/

Request a compliments and complaints form by calling Homes Direct on 01902 556789.

 

5.2 Complaints can be made in any one of the following methods:

  • Email complimentsandcomplaints@wolverhamptonhomes.org.uk

  • In writing to:
    Wolverhampton Homes
    29 Market Street
    Wolverhampton
    WV1 3AG

  • Ask a friend, relative, a trusted person or an advocate to contact us on your behalf. In these cases, we will need your consent to discuss any issues with them

 

5.3 Please let us know if you need any help in making your complaint and we will put you in touch with our Customer Feedback Team who will be able to support you.

5.4 Where a complaint raises issues that fall within the responsibility of both the City of Wolverhampton Council and Wolverhampton Homes, we will agree with the council who will lead the investigation. We will let you know how your complaint will be handled and the reply will be approved by both organisations
before it is sent.

 

6.0 Putting things right


6.1 We follow a two-stage complaints process detailed as Stage 1 and Stage 2. If we have made a mistake, there are several ways we can try to put it right. This includes:

  • Making an apology
  • Giving a full explanation
  • Reviewing a decision, we have already made
  • Reviewing our procedures
  • Considering and advise on financial compensation


We will consider each case on its own merits and offer the most suitable remedy to resolve the issue, to take steps to put things right, and to learn and make service improvements.

 

7.0 Complaints process

7.1 Stage 1

We aim to resolve all complaints at this stage. We will acknowledge the Stage 1 complaint within five working days. Where possible we will also call you to discuss your complaint and how we can work to resolve it. Once your complaint is received, we will review it and pass it on to the relevant service lead to investigate. We will also try to resolve the matter straight away. 

We will respond to you fully within 10 working days from the day your complaint was received. If the investigation is going to take longer, we’ll be in touch to let you know within 10 days of the complaint being received, with the reasons for the delay and to tell you when you can expect a full reply.

 

7.2 Stage 2

If you are not satisfied with the response given at Stage 1 you can ask us to review our original investigation. You will need to explain how your complaint meets one of the following criteria:

  • Your issue was not properly addressed at Stage 1 of the process
  • There was something inaccurate in the response given to you
  • You have new information or evidence to give to us, that was not available originally

You need to do this as soon as possible, preferably within 20 working days of our response to your Stage 1 complaint.

We will acknowledge your Stage 2 complaint within five working days. Where possible we will also call you to discuss your complaint and how we can work to resolve it. Once your complaint is received, we will review it and pass it on to the relevant service lead to investigate, and we will also try to resolve the matter straight away if this is still outstanding. The service lead will review the initial investigation to ensure it was thorough and that it followed our complaints policy and procedure. If they are satisfied that it did, the original decision will be upheld. We will respond to you fully within 20 working days from the day your Stage 2 complaint was received to confirm our decision.

If the investigation is going to take longer, we’ll be in touch to let you know within 20 days of the complaint being received, with the reason for the delay and to tell you when you can expect a full reply. This should not exceed a further 10 working day without good reason. 

This is the end of our internal complaints process.


8.0 What if I am still not happy with the outcome of my complaint?

8.1 If you are still not happy with the response you have received, you can choose to refer your complaint to a designated person. 

8.2 You also have the option to wait eight weeks from the date of our final decision and then contact the Housing Ombudsman Service to ask them to speak with us on your behalf.

8.3 In some cases you will be able to refer your case to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman. If this is the appropriate body for your complaint, details of how to contact them will be provided in your Stage 2 response letter.

8.4 The Housing Ombudsman is responsible for complaints about council or housing association landlords. They can look at how your landlord dealt with your request for repairs. The Ombudsman decides if your landlord acted properly and followed the correct procedures.

8.5 The Housing Ombudsman can be contacted by telephone on 0300 111 3000 or email at info@housing-ombudsman.org.uk


9.0 Learning from complaints

9.1 Customer satisfaction is very important to us and we use your feedback, including complaints, to shape improvements to our services and procedures.

9.2 When a complaint is resolved, we will identify any learning opportunities from this. The Customer Feedback team will work with the appropriate service manager to decide how the learnings will feed into service improvements.

9.3 These improvements will be reported by the Senior Management Team each quarter, along with details of any trends or themes that have been identified and the steps that have been taken to address these.

 

10.0 Unreasonable complaints

10.1 As detailed above, we are committed to providing a high-quality customer feedback service and dealing with complaints in a fair and impartial way. However, in a small number of cases customers pursue their complaints in an unreasonable and persistent way that can negatively impact the investigation
of their complaint and the ability of staff to provide a quality service to other customers.

10.2 This may involve making serial complaints about different matters, or repeated complaints about the same issue. These actions can occur either while their complaint is being investigated, or once the investigation has been completed.

10.3 We consider these types of unreasonable complaints to be unacceptable, and they will be handled in line with our Unreasonable Complainant Behaviour Policy. Where a complaint is considered to be unreasonable, it is still important to ensure that the customer is able to access our services, including
the complaints service. There are a number of options available to staff to enable them to manage unreasonable complaints effectively and fairly, with minimal disruption to other customers. Full details can be found in our Unreasonable Complainant Behaviour Policy.


11.0 Policy review

11.1 This policy will be reviewed on an annual basis or in line with changes in law or business requirements.


12.0 Privacy and personal data

12.1 Your privacy is important to us and we are therefore committed to handling your personal data in accordance with the provisions of the Data Protection Act 2018, General Data Protection Regulation 2016 / 679, and any subsequent changes to data protection legislation.


12.2 Our privacy policy can be found on our website: https://www.wolverhamptonhomes.org.uk/privacy

 

13.0 Discretionary payments

13.1 Wolverhampton Homes aims to be fair and proportionate in its response to resolving issues arising from complaints and in doing so may consider a gesture of a goodwill ‘without prejudice’ to be considered by way of a compensation payment.

13.2 The factors taken into account when deciding the overall amount include:

  • the duration of any avoidable distress or inconvenience
  • the seriousness of any other unfair impact


13.3 If a discretionary compensation payment is awarded, the value will be offset against any outstanding balances owed in the first instance, including but not exclusive to, rent arrears or repair recharges.

 

14.0 Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

14.1 This policy clearly details the multiple ways that a complaint can be made, including via an advocate. This will help to remove barriers and ensure fair and equal access to the process for all customers.

14.2 All reasonable adjustments will be made, if disability is considered to be a factor in the registering of a complaint. We will take reasonable steps to accommodate any reasonable adjustments you may have to enable you to access this policy or receive responses to complaints in other formats and provide such assistance as you may reasonably require.

14.3 Wolverhampton Homes is committed to making sure our policies and services reflect the community we serve and to meet equal opportunities. Our aim is to make the Complaints policy easy to use and accessible to all of our customers in line with the Equality Act 2010.

14.4 Wolverhampton Homes works with a number of community groups to develop services that are both accessible and responsive to individual needs.