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Housing Ombudsman issues guidance for board members and councillors on their role in complaints handling

The Housing Ombudsman has issued new guidance on the effective involvement of board members and councillors in the promotion of a positive complaints culture within their organisations.

The guidance shares best practice, outlines the Ombudsman's expectations of governing bodies and sets out how complaints information can support them to improve service delivery.

Publication of the guidance, which can be viewed here, comes as it emerged that there were six cases of non-compliance out of 23 complaint handling failure orders issued by the Housing Ombudsman between April to June 2021.

The Ombudsman’s second report on failure orders marks one year since the launch of its Complaint Handling Code in July 2020, which it said sets out clear expectations on complaint handling by landlords in the Housing Ombudsman Scheme.

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The Code also introduced a new power to issue complaint handling failure orders where a landlord is failing to comply with its membership obligations.

Richard Blakeway, Housing Ombudsman, said: “It is important for landlords to use the Code in order to resolve complaints raised by their residents quickly and to use the learning from complaints to drive service improvements.

“The issuance of failure orders shows landlords in ‘real time’ problems with their complaints handling. This is the second quarter of issuing orders and in most cases landlords have responded well. However, it is disappointing that in six cases the landlords did not comply.

“Complaint handling performs an important strategic role for an organisation. It is important for governance to understand the complaints their organisations are receiving and the impact of their complaint handling on residents. We know that many board members and councillors are already fulfilling this role and overall landlords have responded positively to Code and self-assessment since its publication. I hope our new guidance will be a useful additional tool.”

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