07/04/2020: Temporary changes to whg complaints
In order to allow us to focus all our efforts on the response to the COVID-19 outbreak, we are temporarily suspending our Complaints Policy in its current format.
In such unprecedented times, we know you will appreciate the need for us to focus on the running of our essential services. This does mean that we are not delivering our usual service standards. With that in mind, we will not agree or uphold any complaint made about failing to meet those service standards. Each complaint will be reviewed on a case by case basis and discussed with you.
We continue to accept complaints about the services we are delivering and will ensure it is investigated at the earliest opportunity. We will, of course, keep in contact with you and agree a timescale for a response to your complaint. With each of our responses we will also outline what your next step would be after this.
If you have a complaint about the emergency repair service we are operating, we will deal with this as a matter of urgency.
For customers with existing complaints which are currently being dealt with under the current Complaint Policy, there may be a need to pause investigations at this stage and we will contact you to discuss this in more detail.
It will not be possible to resolve some complaints until current lockdown restrictions are lifted. For example, if to resolve your complaint we would need to visit your home for an inspection, this would only be done after the lockdown is lifted to reduce any possible risk to both you our customers and our colleagues. Sometimes we may also need to investigate complaints differently, for example by talking to you over the phone where we would normally visit in person. We will ensure we talk through the options with you as we investigate your complaint.
We appreciate your patience and support during this time.
You can make a complaint if:
- we fail to do something we should have done
- we fail to provide the quality or frequency of service we have said we will
- we did something the wrong way
- we did something we should not have done
- we fail to deal with something in line with our policy and standards.
Expressions of dissatisfaction
Sometimes you may be unhappy with something but do not wish to make a formal complaint. If we have made a mistake that is easy for us to resolve and you do not want to make a formal complaint then we will aim to do this within 2 working days.
When you make a formal complaint we will acknowledge we have received it. We will contact you to discuss what has happened. A Manager will fully investigate your complaint and will reply to you in writing. We will let you know when we expect to get a response to you and agree a new time if we can not meet this initial date.
Once you have received our reply, if you feel that there is additional information that we did not consider, for example, you can ask for your complaint to be reviewed. You should request for this to be done within 28 days of receiving our response. We do reserve the right to decline this request if there is no new information to be considered. We will let you know if this is the case and our complaints process ends.
Where the request is agreed, we will acknowledge that we have received it.
A Manager (who is more Senior than the person who Investigated) will review the complaint. They will contact you to discuss:
- What you feel is outstanding
- What you would like us to do to put things right
You will receive a response as soon as we are able to review your complaint. We will contact you to talk through potential timescales for this to be done.
Panel review stage
Once you have received our reply, if you feel that there is something we have not explained, for example, you can ask for your complaint to be reviewed. You should request this within 28 days of receiving our response. We do reserve the right to decline this request, as detailed above.
In light of the COVID 19 pandemic, we may also ask that the Panel is held after the period of lockdown has ended. We will talk to you about the options available if this is the case.
You should explain what you feel is outstanding and what you would like us to do to put things right. Your complaint will then be referred to a Panel consisting of a member of our Senior Leadership Team, plus two Board or Committee members.
You will be invited to attend so that you can explain your experience. You can also bring a friend or representative with you (this cannot be a legal representative). The Panel will consider all of the information and make a decision. You will receive a letter to explain the decision the panel have reached.
If you have completed whg's complaints process and you are unhappy with the decision made, you can contact a designated person to review your complaint. Designated persons are local councillors or members of parliament. Information can be found at Walsall Council's website.
Where a designated person considers that they are unable to resolve a complaint locally and if you have authorised them in writing to do so, they have the option to refer a complaint to the Housing Ombudsman.
As well as designated persons you can request that a designated tenant panel review your complaint. whg does not currently have a recognised designated tenant panel. If this changes, contact details for the panel will be provided on this website.
Housing Ombudsman Service
If you are still unhappy after coming to the end of our complaints process – and you do not wish to contact a designated person – you have the option to wait eight weeks and contact the Housing Ombudsman directly using the details below.
You will be able to appeal to the Housing Ombudsman if you are a tenant, leaseholder, letting applicant or have a contractual relationship with us. You must complain to the Ombudsman within six months of reaching the end of our complaints procedure.
You can contact the Housing Ombudsman Service by post at PO Box 152, Liverpool L33 7WQ, by telephone on 0300 111 3000, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can visit www.housing-ombudsman.org.uk to complete the online complaints form.
The Ombudsman will check that you have taken your complaint through our complaints procedure before considering your case. If the Ombudsman feels we have done something wrong, they will decide what needs to be done to put things right.
Once a complaint has been looked into by the Ombudsman we will not take any further action to resolve your complaint unless the Ombudsman asks us to.
More help available
There is a range of other help and advice available if you need assistance with the complaints process. Your local MP or Councillor may be able to help you and you can get free independent advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau. You can also speak to a solicitor, who may charge you for their advice, law centres or housing aid and advice centres.