Dealing with complaints - how we perform
Updated: 20 May 2013
In 2011/12 we met our performance target of dealing with 90% of all complaints within 15 working days. A total of 470 complaints were received, compared with 470 received in the previous year and 499 in 2009/10.
Details of the numbers at each stage, together with response times, are set out in table 2 below. It shows a decrease in the number of stage one cases, a slight increase in the number of second stage with fewer referred to the Ombudsman compared with the same period last year.
One of the objectives of the complaints procedure is to act promptly to resolve the complaint, thereby reducing the flow of complaints from one stage to the next. During the year 2011/12 there were 374 first stage complaints, and of these 95 progressed to second stage.
The Commissioner dealt with 46 new cases. Not all of these cases required a letter of enquiry to the Housing Executive. The Commissioner can decide to refer the case back to the Housing Executive if the complainant hasn’t gone through our complaints procedure. He may reject the complaint, or the complaint could be discontinued or settled prior to formal investigation. We received one new letter of enquiry this year.
In 2011/12 one case was upheld.This compares to 2010/11 where five cases were upheld and 2009/10 where five cases were also upheld.
A complaint is not looked upon as a “negative” to the Housing Executive but as a valuable way for us to make sure we deliver a high quality service to the customer. We place importance on trying to resolve complaints at an early stage. This is one of the reasons that home visits (when appropriate) play an important role at the first stage of the complaints process. Response times alongside the quality of response are closely monitored. While it is important to meet the deadline, some cases, because of the complex nature of the complaint, take longer to resolve than others. We believe an early response should not be at the expense of a full and thorough investigation.
The Housing Executive carries out a significant number of transactions with customers throughout the year. For example, in a 12 month period our Housing and Regeneration Division dealt with
- 1.6 million telephone calls to the Districts and Customer Service Units.
- 6,319 housing allocations by the Housing Executive.
- 326,055 visits to local offices.
- 400,207 repair requests and inspections.
Equally important to how we measure our performance is how the complainant assesses the handling of his/her complaint. We welcome feedback on complaints as part of our drive to improve services. We issue a feedback form with each response and have found that this has been more productive than previous methods of research.
Our computerised complaints management system now holds details of some 15,500 cases and has proved to be a valuable asset in recording, monitoring and analysing complaints.
What did people complain about?
Complaints received continue to be mainly concerned with repairs/maintenance, housing issues, improvement schemes, transfers, applications for housing, house sales, anti-social behaviour and grants.
Issues identified during the investigation of complaints are highlighted and, where appropriate, changes are identified in relation to policy, procedures and/or services. These changes are followed through, with the relevant Director and the Chief Executive’s Business Committee being kept advised of the outcome.
The Housing Executive’s approach to handling complaints consistently seeks to reflect this. The Housing Executive’s Complaints Procedure has been widely commended and we continue to seek ways to improve our procedures.
Table 1 - Categories of complaints received in 2011/12 compared to 2010/11
|Category||Stage 1||Stage 2||Stage 1||Stage 2|
|Change of Heating||8||1||2||0|
|Payment to Tenants||8||2||2||0|
|Grants & HMO||18||15||28||19|
|Land & Property||5||3||8||4|
Table 2 - Complaints received in 2011/12
|Stage 1||Stage 2||Commissioner||Total|
|Within 15 days||348||79||1||428|
|> 25 days||8||5||0||13|
Table 3 - Complaints received by the Commissioner
|Health & Social Care Bodies||14||20||33|
Table 4 - Outcome of complaints received by the Commissioner
|Carried forward from previous year||11||9||3|
|Settled or cleared after preliminary investigation||5||5||10|
|Cases still under investigation||9||3||5|
|Cases not upheld||2||2||1|
|Cases upheld or partly upheld||5||4||1|