Our complaints process is on our web pages and has exclusions where a complaint will not be considered.
These exclusions are reasonable and fair to residents and take into account other existing processes:
- specialised processes operate for appeals against Planning decisions, Benefits, School exclusions, School admissions, Student awards, and School Transport decisions
- an initial complaint is a necessary part of a request for a service for example to Environmental Health, or Trading Standards, or for clearance of obstacles or a housing repair
- if a routine service failure occurs, a standard remedy or any other similar process applies
- a complaint in respect of care provided in an independent care home is subject to statutory registration procedures
- in law, different arrangements exist for complaints about schools in relation to the curriculum
- complaints about school’s curriculum issues will usually be received and responded to by the schools concerned under their procedures
- separate statutory procedures exist for complaints under Section 26 of the Children Act 1989, NHS and Community Care Act 1990 and the Localism Act 2011
- separate procedures exist for staff grievances, disciplinary matters and “whistle blowing”.
- separate procedures exist for complaints about the Mayoral function, Councillors, Council policy, or the merits of decisions taken by the committees acting within their legal powers. This includes complaints made by Councillors about the performance of individual officers.
We have provided accessible ways for residents to make a complaint. These include:
- online forms
- in person
- through an MP or Councillor
- using an agreed third party or advocate
- Citizens Advice Bureau
- and any other reasonable request
All reasonable adjustments are taken into account on request and we welcome feedback.
Outcomes and remedies
Where something has gone wrong we take appropriate steps to put things right through regular performance monitoring and outcome management.
Continuous learning and improvement
We have made improvements as a result of learning from complaints and look to putting things right so they do not happen again. Consideration is given to:
- individual staff training needs and implementation
- tracking recommendations and remedial actions to ensure they are completed ‘in time’
- a new Managing Unreasonable Behaviour Policy is being reviewed
- performance is reported to all service leads weekly to identify the progress of open complaints and the Customer Care team track and identifies volumes on a daily basis
Sutton Housing Partnership
Sutton Housing Partnership has the following in place to address the above requirements:
- a new team lead by the service area People and Place to generate a higher focus on complaint resolution
- a new complaints and complainant (unreasonable behaviour) policy.
- lesson learned log in use and reviewed regularly
- complaints learning course developed by Customer Resolutions Manager and delivered to new starters
- reports sent to all service leads daily to identify the progress of open complaints
- customer Service Excellence commissioned and passed in March 2020 with an action plan to move all areas of customer service forward
- compensation policy reviewed November 2019
- customer service standard project group formed to enhance and align all standards
- workflows completed and communicated - e.g. a process for dropped kerbs was unclear and triggered complaints. This was communicated to the relevant team and there 5 have been no further adaptation complaints as direction is clear.
We share these lessons with our Residents through
- quarterly performance & customer resolution reports which are available to all residents on the Sutton Housing Partnership (SHP) website.
- SHP Performance Committee meetings are open meetings and residents in attendance are free to participate, observe and contribute to discussions regarding complaints and lessons learned
- reporting to the SHP Performance Committee with a summary of performance on complaints at the end of the financial year including lessons learnt, improvements to services made, compensation awarded and determinations upheld
- an annual report in 2020/21 that will have a summary on complaints for sharing with residents/stakeholders.
- continued use of best practice as advised by the Ombudsman and share with Service where appropriate
Key areas in the Code
- the universal definition of a complaint as set out in the new SHP policy
- providing easy access to the complaints procedure and ensuring residents are aware of it, including their right to access the Housing Ombudsman Service, new SHP policy to be launched and communicated through SHP website and in the Homefront newsletter
- the structure of the complaints procedure with only two stages necessary and clear timeframes set out for responses, SHP new policy has removed stage 3
- ensuring fairness in complaint handling with a resident-focused process
- taking action to put things right and appropriate remedies
- creating a positive complaint handling culture through continuous learning and improvement, improving engagement with the Service and Lead Officers through regular communication and training