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Dealing with complaints - how we perform

Updated: 18 Apr 2015
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Complaints help us improve our service
Making a complaint

Complaints performance April 2013 – March 2014

The Housing Executive’s complaints procedure is a key element of improving our service to the public.
The procedure provides for a two tier process: first stage complaints are investigated by the Regional/Housing Benefit/Grants/Land & Property Managers as appropriate, and if still not satisfied, the complainant may then appeal to the Chief Executive at the second stage.
Where a complainant, after Stage 2, remains dissatisfied, they have recourse to the Commissioner for Complaints who may decide to investigate the case independently of the Housing Executive.

Context

A complaint is not looked upon as a negative to the Housing Executive and its staff but as a valuable vehicle for ensuring the delivery of a high quality service to the customer. The Housing Executive places 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. The principle that is adopted is that an early response should not be at the expense of a full and thorough investigation.

Performance 2013 /2014

During the last year, a total of 332 formal complaints were received. This compares with 329 received the previous year. Of the 4 cases investigated by the Commissioner for Complaints in 2013/14, none were upheld.
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 2013/14, 244 First stage complaints were dealt with and 84 went on to the second stage.
We aim to respond to all complaints within 15 working days. Our target is to adhere to this in at least 90% of cases.  The overall performance, for complaints, excluding informal complaints was 69%. The target of 90% is a challenging one, but clearly restructuring and significant staffing changes have caused delays.

Performance tables

Performance 1 April 2013 – March 2014

Stage 1 Stage 2 Commissioner Total
Within 15 days 181 (74%) 46 (55%) 3 (75%) 230 (69%)
Total 244 84 4 332

Complaints statistics break down of areas 2013/14

Complaints Overall Amount Under 15 days Percentage
1st Stage Belfast H&R 56 50 89%
1st Stage South East H&R 38 34 89%
1st Stage South H&R 30 22 73%
1st Stage North 100 57 57%
1st Stage Grants 10 9 90%
1st Stage Finance 8 7 88%
1st Stage Land & Property 2 2 100%
2nd Stage Housing & Regeneration 63 25 40%
2nd Stage Grants 17 17 100%
2nd Stage Land & Property 2 2 100%
2nd Stage Finance 2 0 0%
Commissioner 4 3 75%
Overall 332 228 69%

Nature of complaints

Complaints received tend to be mainly from Housing and Regeneration with over half relating to maintenance and repairs. Other significant areas are Housing Benefit, neighbour disputes and staff attitude.
Problems identified during the investigation of complaints are monitored and, where appropriate, issues are highlighted with a view to improving service or procedures. In addition, where the Ombudsman makes a recommendation with regard to policy or procedural changes, these are followed up with the relevant Division.
The informal part of the Complaints System is used and monitored only by Housing and Regeneration. That showed that 436 informal complaints had been logged last year with approximately half of these relating to repairs and maintenance.