Agenda item

Housing Complaints

 

This version of the 2017/18 Complaints Annual report focuses on complaints performance in the Housing directorate, with an overview report on complaints performance in the Housing directorate provided in Appendix A and a summary of the root cause of complaints and improvement actions in the Housing Directorate in 2017/18 in Appendix B.

 

Minutes:

Following this item the order of the agenda was changed as set out below

 

At the invitation of the Chair, Cllr McLennan (Deputy Leader, Brent Council) introduced the report which provided Members with an overview of the Annual Complaints Report 2017-18, approved by Cabinet on 10 December 2018. The Report also provided the Committee with an outline of the Housing Directorate complaints performance for 2017-18, a summary of the main cause of complaints and improvement actions set out in detail in Appendices A and B respectively.

 

Focusing on the Housing Directorate, it was stated that the majority of housing complaints related to customer care, repairs and communications and came from three areas namely Housing Management Services, Housing Needs and Private Housing Services with a negligible number of complaints received in Housing Partnerships. However, Cllr McLennan reported that despite ongoing restructuring and growing pressures on services, data demonstrated the strong improvements made across the Council compared to previous years, including a 4% decrease in Stage 1 complaints, 8% decrease in Stage 2, 5% decrease in level of compensation and nearly 30% decrease in the number of cases awarded compensation. In welcoming the improvements, a member posed a question relating to the reasons for the increase in the number of upheld complaints, despite the reduction in overall case numbers. Irene Bremang (Head of Performance and Improvement) stated that this was a reflection of the Council’s willingness to take responsibility, while also challenging the pre-existing culture of defensiveness and hereby trying to improve the service and compensate residents when appropriate.

 

Discussions moved on with members spotlighting on complaints within the Private Housing Services, in particular the most common type of complaints received and the level of reporting. The Committee’s attention was drawn to information in the report which provided a breakdown of root causes of complaints by main service area and demonstrated that the overall number of complaints in that area was low, with the majority of cases relating to either grants and enforcement or, in a some cases, due to a discretionary payment challenges. In terms of reporting and follow up action, Hakeem Osinaike (Operational Director Housing) confirmed that previously existing backlogs had been cleared and the service was now focusing on current applications. He pointed out that the service was dealing with a range of enquiries, including such on licensing matters which were normally dealt as a service request but also standard complaints on the quality of housing services. Set processing targets were in place and adhered to, with officers agreeing to update on the exact turnaround times at the next committee meeting.

 

Finally, the Committee briefly spotlighted on the issue of recording residents’ compliments received by staff. Irene Bremang advised that compliments had been under-recorded on the Council’s complaints system and that staff had been reminded to log their compliments on the system or send them to the Complaints team to do this on their behalf.

 

 

RESOLVED:

 

      i.        That the contents of the Housing Complaints 2017/18 report be noted.

  1. That the content of the automatic PRS licensing responses be improved to include additional information for residents.

   iii.        That response times for the completion of licensing applications is confirmed by the Operational Director for Housing.

 

Supporting documents: