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Housing Ombudsman Service Residents Panel
 

The new Housing Ombudsman Scheme aims to create a stronger resident voice by seeking input and feedback from tenants to help the Housing Ombudsman develop new policies and procedures to improve Social Housing complaints mechanisms. This framework is to promote high-quality complaint handling, an initiative that draws on the vast knowledge of residents lived experiences and provide valuable input to create its resolution guide.

 

Residents will meet twice a year to discuss key areas of work such as the development of the Ombudsman’s annual business plan and three-year corporate Plan. In addition, there will be opportunities for residents, like myself, to take part in smaller group discussions. These special interest discussions will focus on awareness raising, service development, learning residents’ experience of using the Ombudsman service and thematic reports investigating issues arising through complaints.

History and Facts

  • The new Housing Ombudsman Scheme started last September (2020) in accordance to the Government’s Social Housing White Paper.

  • Complaint polices and procedures remain the same – but some significant changes to the Code.

  • The Housing Ombudsman has new power to carry out wider investigation where there is evidence of ‘a systemic failings’.

  • Landlords are expected to deal with complaints in line with both the Scheme and the Complaints Handling Code.

  • The Housing Ombudsman has new power to issue a Complaint Handling Failure Order for non-compliance with Scheme or Code.
     

As a member of the Housing Ombudsman Service Residents Panel Anthony Buchanan's role is to make sure that Oxford City Council’s (OCC) complaint policies and procedures are compliant in accordance with the Ombudsman’s obligations set out in the Complain Handling Code and the Terms of Reference.

Anthny's aim is to establish and maintain a complaints procedure in accordance with any good practice recommended by the Ombudsman and as part of that procedure, inform tenants of their right to bring complaints to the Ombudsman under the Scheme. As part of the Scheme, he aims to make sure OCC publish its complaints procedure, and its membership of the Scheme, and to make information easily accessible to those looking to complain. In addition to this make sure we manage complaints in accordance with its published policies and procedures or within a reasonable timescale fully explained to the tenant.

As we are a member of the Housing Ombudsman Scheme, we are expected to co-operate with the Housing Ombudsman making sure complaints are resolved as efficiently as possible.

As a tenant representative, Anthony will be looking at the complaints process and understand how the system can be improved and managed better, or whether it needs to change, be amended, and updated.

 

So, how will this work? Anthony's responsibilities will be focused on:

  • Effective complaint handling.

  • Resolving complaints effectively and efficiently.

  • Complaint Record Keeping and audit monitoring.

  • Repair outcome and monitoring

  • Financial retribution for distress and inconvenience policies.

  • Accountability – apology, explanation, and demonstration of learning

  • Reviewing complaint handling in reference to policies and procedures.

  • Culture- outcome focused, transparency and accountability.
     

All social housing providers are required to work with both the Housing Ombudsman and Tenant Representatives to improve their internal complaints processes to assist with early resolution of disputes. This commitment will help to increase tenant confidence and establish appropriate standards of practice consistently across the housing sector.

By understanding the experiences of tenants, the Housing Ombudsman uses this information from complaint handling scenarios to drive improvements and set the right culture, relevant to boards as well as frontline staff. The Complaint Handling Code sets out the requirement for social housing landlords to improve access for tenants and ensuring tenants are aware of the complaint procedure, the Code, and their right to access the Housing Ombudsman Service.

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