Complaints Handling Code
If anyone is not happy with our services, we want to hear about it, so we can use the opportunity to improve wherever possible. The national body that oversees complaints handling in Housing Associations is the Housing Ombudsman. For complaints about our Support services, the equivalent body is the Local Government Ombudsman. The Housing Ombudsman recently published a new Code which Housing Associations must follow. We have completed our self-assessment against the Code, led by the Complaints Panel and in consultation with customers. The Advance Board considered this self-assessment at its December meeting and approved the recommendations, including that:
1. Advance is already largely compliant with the new Code. Our policy and approach is very much in line with the core aims of the Code.
2. There are a number of areas where we will make a change to policy and practice, to start by 1 April 2021;
- a change to the definition of a complaint, including that Advance will deal with complaints about contractors or others acting on our behalf (which we do, but the existing policy definition is not explicit about that)
- incorporating a section on reasonable adjustments
- clarifying the role of the Complaints Panel as the ‘Complaints Team’ in the context of the Code
- providing an option (to the complainant) to include the customer rep from the Complaints Panel on any stage 2 appeal hearing.
3. We also considered the target timescales for acknowledging a complaint (1 working day) and decision and response (15 working days). For these it was agreed that changes were not needed.