Dealing with complaints - How we perform

Complaints performance April 2021 – March 2022

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 for formal complaints:

  • First Stage complaints are investigated by the relevant Area/ Housing Solutions/ Housing Benefit / Accounts/ Grants /Place-shaping Manager.
  • If the complainant remains dissatisfied, they may then escalate their complaint to the Final Stage of the complaints process for investigation by a Director.
  • If a complainant remains dissatisfied after the Final Stage of the complaints procedure, and there is not a legal remedy available, they may bring their complaint to the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman (NIPSO). The Ombudsman may decide to investigate the case independently of the Housing Executive.

Context

A complaint is viewed as a valuable vehicle for ensuring the delivery of a high quality service to our customers. The Housing Executive places importance on trying to put things right, when they’re in our control, and resolve complaints at an early stage.

Our usual complaints handling times are currently under pressure due to ongoing pressures in the work environment. We monitor response times as well as the quality of responses. We try our best to provide a response within the target timeframe. However some cases, because of the complex nature of the complaint, can take longer to investigate and resolve than others. We continue to focus on a quality and thorough investigation of complaints.

Performance 2021 / 2022

During the last year, a total of 282 formal complaints were received and 259 were closed during the year. This compares with 270 received  and 240 closed the previous year. In addition to internal complaints, 8 cases were referred and investigated by NIPSO in 2021/ 22, compared to 9 the previous year.  The difference between cases received and cases closed is because not all cases are received and closed within the same financial year.

One of the objectives of the complaints procedure is to act swiftly to resolve the complaint, and minimise the need for complaints to be escalated to the next stage of the complaints process. During the year 2021/22, 203 First stage complaints were closed within the year, compared with 199 the previous year.  48 Second Stage complaints were closed within the year, compared with 32 the previous year.

In 2021/22 we aimed 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 was 53%, compared to 48% the previous year.

The target of 90% is a challenging one in light of the complex nature of the increasing numbers of cases and the level of investigation required. 

We have redesigned our complaints process to comply with best practice, ensure swifter progress through the complaints process and provide more realistic timescales for complaints investigations. The new process launched in July 2022 and we will report on performance against this next year.

Performance Tables 2021/22

Cases closed summary

 

 

Stage 1

Stage 2

NIPSO

Total

Within 15 days

136

(67%)

1

(2%)

0

(0%)

137

(52%)

Total

203

48

8

259

 

Complaints breakdown for cases closed by category

 

Complaint type

Stage 1

Stage 2

Ombudsman

Housing

64

9

5

Succession appeals

25

13

 

Repairs and Maintenance

39

4

 

Heating Services

2

 

 

Planned Schemes

8

2

 

Workmanship/Contractor

14

1

 

Leasehold service charges

2

 

 

Rent Account

4

 

 

Neighbour Complaints

14

2

 

Housing Benefit

2

 

1

Land and Regeneration

1

1

1

Payments to tenants

1

 

 

Delays in Grant

1

 

 

Disabled Facilities Grant

1

 

 

Repair Grant

1

 

 

Renovation Grant

1

 

 

Refusal of Grant

 

7

1

Boiler Replacement Scheme

 

1

 

Affordable Warmth Scheme

 

1

 

Staff Attitude

23

7

 

Total

203

48

8

 

Complaints figures comparison for last 3 years (cases responded to in year)

 

Stage

2019/2020

2020/2021

2021/22

1

242

199

203

2

55

32

48

Ombudsman

10

9

8

Nature of complaints

The complaints we receive tend to be mainly from Landlord Services, with 75% received in relation to maintenance and repairs or housing. Other key significant areas are grants, neighbour complaints and staff attitude.

We monitor and report upon the issues highlighted during the investigation of complaints, with a view to learning lessons and improving our service or procedures for all customers.

Where the Ombudsman makes a recommendation with regard to a complaint, we ensure this is carried out and advise the Ombudsman of this when complete.


Next
How our complaints procedure works
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