Policy aims and objectives
This policy has been developed in conjunction with our Residents’ Steering Group. It is compliant with the requirements of our Regulators, specifically the Care Quality Commission and both the Housing Ombudsman’s Service Complaints Handling Code and the Regulator for Social Housing’s Tenant Involvement Empowerment Standard.
We sincerely welcome complaints and compliments from anybody who has received either a poor or good service from Orwell. We welcome and value this feedback because, without it, we would not be able to learn from and correct our mistakes; similarly, it is good to know when we have got the service right.
We will ensure complaints are handled quickly and efficiently, making sure any changes to the service required are put in place.
All complaints will be monitored to ensure that we are being fair, putting things right and learning from outcomes. An annual report produced by our Complaint’s Lead Officer will be shared with both Orwell’s Residents’ Steering Group and the Board.
This policy should be read, in conjunction with Orwell’s Guide on How to Make a Complaint and the Complaint’s Procedure, as well as, Orwell’s Duty of Candour policy.
If you want to make a complaint, please fill out our complaints form here.
Statutory / Regulatory Requirements
- The policy will comply with the Localism Act (2011), Housing Act (1996 – schedule 2), General Data Protection Act (GDPR) (2018), Equality Act (2010), Housing Ombudsman’s Complaint Code, the Tenant Involvement and Empowerment Standards and the Health & Social Care Act (2008) (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014: Regulation 16.
- Confidentiality and Freedom of Information - It is important that customers understand and appreciate that Orwell will treat all complaints in the upmost confidence, complying with all aspects of the General Data Protection Act (2018).
A complaint is defined as an expression of dissatisfaction, however made, about the standard of service, actions or lack of action by the organisation, its own staff or those acting on our behalf, affecting an individual, resident or group of residents.
You do not have to use the word “complaint” in order for it to be treated as such.
A complaint about anti-social behaviour from an Orwell resident would not be regarded as a complaint, unless the complaint is about Orwell’s handling of the anti-social behaviour service.
Orwell recognises that not everybody is willing or able to make a complaint: some people may just be wishing to clarify their understanding of a matter or be listened to. If you do not receive a satisfactory answer to your question, then the staff member should advise you to escalate the matter as a complaint and you have the right to do that in any course.
- Who can make a complaint?
Anyone can make a complaint about Orwell’s service, however Orwell may choose not to treat the matter as a complaint in certain instances, (please refer to the section on exclusions below (3.8)). Details on how to complain is in the section below (3.6) with further details contained within Orwell’s Guidance on How to Make a Complaint.
- How to make a complaint?
Complaints should be made to our Customer Services Team who will then decide who is the best person to handle the complaint. The complaint will then be logged, referred and monitored for quality assurance purposes. Complaints can be sent to the Customer Services Team by email, telephone, in person, through Orwell’s website or social media.
- How the complaint will be handled?
Orwell has a simple and efficient complaints process involving just two stages:
- A stage one complaint will be dealt with at an officer / front-line team leader or local or scheme manager-level, who will endeavour to resolve the complaint in ten calendar days;
- A stage two complaint will be dealt with at senior manager or at director-level, who will endeavour to resolve the complaint in twenty calendar days.
If, for whatever reason, Orwell is unable to resolve the complaint in the above timeframes, we will outline, in writing, within the time frames above, what we are intending to do to resolve the complaint, and by when. If the timeframes in the work plan are not adhered to, then you would be entitled to escalate the complaint.
In responding to the complainant, the person dealing with the matter will provide a clear explanation on how this complaint can be escalated, if you remain dissatisfied.
We will not accept complaints:
- Where the problem is a recurring issue and we consider we have previously resolved the matter;
- Where the matter is subject to legal proceedings;
- Where the complainant is behaving unreasonably.
If we decide not to accept your complaint, for any of the above or any other reasons, we will explain why and you will have the right to challenge this decision by bringing the matter to the Ombudsman.
- Closing complaints
A complaint will be considered closed when Orwell has written to you, outlining what we have done to resolve the complaint, have carried out all of the actions agreed, and we do not receive any further information from yourselves to indicate you are still not satisfied. Orwell will write and let you know when we consider the complaint is closed, giving you a further opportunity to feedback to Orwell, or escalate the complaint accordingly. We will provide a timescale for you to come back to us.
- What happens if you are still not happy after stage 2 of our Complaints procedure?
You are able to refer your complaint to either a Designated Person or our Tenant Panel. A Designated Person is a local Councillor or MP, or we have a Dedicated Panel, made up of representative tenants who can further consider and determine your complaint, or refer the matter to the Housing Ombudsman Service (www.housing-ombudsman.org.uk/). For details about both of the above, you can seek advice from Orwell’s Complaints Lead Officer.
- If your complaint is about Orwell’s Support & Care service you should exhaust Orwell’s internal complaints procedure first. If your complaint about the Support & Care service is not resolved to your satisfaction, you can refer your complaint about Support to the relevant County Council or Local Authority and for Care service to the County Council or the Care Quality Commission as appropriate. Orwell’s staff will be able to advise you accordingly.
Representation and Support
- If you are not comfortable or confident making a complaint, we will signpost you to other organisations, such as Citizens Advice and any other appropriate agencies who may be able to advise and provide support with making your complaint.
- If you do not have the mental capacity to make a complaint, we will accept complaints from an advocate, an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) or Legal Representative.
Equality and Fairness
- We have produced an accessible guide to our Complaints Policy and our Guidance on How to Make a Complaint, which is available to view on our website.
- We aim to treat all complainants fairly, non-discriminatory and without prejudice and will make reasonable adjustments to our policies, as required, under the Equality Act (2010).
- We also recognise that some of Orwell tenants may wish to be represented by a Power of Attorney or advocate and interpreter services can be provided on request.
Monitoring and Learning from Complaints
- All stage 1, stage 2 and complaints made to Designated Persons, the Tenant Panel, Housing Ombudsman Service or the Care Quality Commission (CQC) will be monitored by Orwell’s Complaints Lead Officer.
- A report containing details of the number of complaints received per stage, resolution times, any learning leading to changes in our service, will be published in a quarterly report to the Executive and Management Team and, annually, to the Residents’ Steering Group and Orwell’s Board.
- Periodically, the Residents’ Steering Group will scrutinise our complaints, compliments and compensation service.
- Any compliment received should be passed onto our Customer Services Team who will ensure that relevant staff members receive it. The team will also record all compliments and include in their regular reporting to senior Management, the Executive, the Residents’ Steering Group and Orwell’s Board.
- We will compensate anyone who has suffered a financial loss as a result of our service failure with a fair and reasonable sum. We will carefully explain how we have determined our compensation and provide you a reasonable period of time in order to accept that offer. If you are an Orwell tenant in rent arrears, we will seek your permission to off-set any monetary compensatory offer against any debt owed to Orwell.
- We will self-assess our performance against the Ombudsman’s Code and send the self-assessment form to the Ombudsman annually, by 31 December.
Making a complaint
Complaints are a positive and valuable source of learning as some help us identify where we can make improvements to our services. If you have a complaint, please let us know here.Make a complaint