Complaints, Data Protection & Equal Opportunity

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Introduction

Newington HA exists to provide an effective and impartial housing service to their tenants and members of the public. Occasions may arise which leave individuals feeling unhappy with aspects of the service we are providing.

If you are unhappy about the service you have received, you may wish to make a complaint. Newington HA respects and accepts the principles of dealing with complaints and has established a formal system to deal with complaints. All matters are dealt with in the strictest confidence.

Policy Statement:

The Association will endeavour to ensure its systems and procedures are adequate to meet minimum standards as set out in the Tenant’s Guarantee in providing housing accommodation. The Association will investigate and respond to any complaint raised by an applicant for re-housing or a tenant or service agreement holder, particularly where allegations seek to show unreasonable delay, bias, failure to follow proper procedures or a decision badly made.

1.0 Purpose

Newington HA Housing Association is committed to providing the best housing, care and support to those in need of such services. We work continually to improve the service we offer.

We want to hear about the occasions where our service standards do not meet expectations. Please advise us about these occasions as soon as possible so that we have the opportunity to put things right and learn from any mistakes that we have made. We are committed to dealing with all complaints quickly, fairly, effectively and as far as is reasonably possible, to the satisfaction of the person who has lodged the complaint.

Many issues can be dealt with informally by approaching Newington HA managers or staff directly.

You can use the complaints procedure if you consider your complaint is too serious to be dealt with informally. If you wish to appoint another person to act on your behalf regarding the complaint, then unless a previous arrangement for this person with Newington HA exists, Newington HA’s complaints form must be used. If such an arrangement does not exist, please ask this person to complete all the details required in section 1.2 of the Complaint Form as a minimum, to allow us to begin dealing with them about the matter on your behalf.

2.0 Usage

Anyone living in a property owned or managed by us or anyone acting on their behalf and with their consent can complain.
Anyone who receives a service from us or who wants to receive a service from us can also complain.
Any member of the public or stakeholder, who has a legitimate concern about our service provision, or considers themselves disadvantaged through NEWINGTON HA’s actions or inactions over activities that NEWINGTON HA can legitimately be expected to control.

3.0 Definition of a Complaint

A complaint will arise when our service levels fail to meet your expectations.
In line with the Ombudsman’s definition of a complaint in his published Framework for Effective Complaint Handling, NEWINGTON HA uses the definition:
“Any oral or written expression of dissatisfaction by any person, however made, about the service, actions or inactions of a body or its officers which requires a response”

Examples of causes of complaints include:

  • A failure to fulfil statutory or contractual responsibilities (e.g. we have not done something that we said we would do in your tenancy agreement or our contracts with you);
  • Delays in our administrative processes (e.g. we haven’t called you back when we said we would);
    Attitude of staff or contractors working on NEWINGTON HA’s behalf (e.g. you thought someone was unhelpful or rude);
  • Poor workmanship
  • Dissatisfaction with the way NEWINGTON HA has reached a decision or what has happened after a decision has been made.
  • A request for a service is not a complaint. So the following for example are not classified as complaints:
  • A routine request for a service such as the initial request for a repair;
  • Reporting an incident of neighbour nuisance or anti-social behaviour – this will be dealt with under our management procedures and tenancy agreement. Our antisocial behaviour policy is available on request.
  • Employees with complaints or problems relating to employment issues should address this through NEWINGTON HA’s Grievance procedure.
  • Reporting an accident on NEWINGTON HA managed property – this will be dealt with under our incident reporting procedure.

It is difficult to resolve anonymous complaints so please provide contact details.

4.0 Methods of registering a complaint

You can lodge your complaint in the following ways:

  • on the telephone on 028 9074 4055
  • in writing
  • in person at the local office (address below)
  • by e-mail to admin@Newingtonha.co.uk
  • through a third party – for example a relative, neighbour, councilor, solicitor or MP in writing to this address: Chief Executive, Newington Housing Association, 300 – 302 Limestone Road, Belfast, BT15 3AR

If you want to complain, it would be helpful if you could tell us what we can do to improve things.

5.0 Complaints Process

Our complaints process has three stages – every complaint must start at the first stage.

Stage 1
A member of staff can help you make your complaint if you wish. Your complaint will be dealt with by a Senior Manager responsible for the delivery of our service once your complaint has been received. We will acknowledge receipt of your complaint within 5 working days and you will be advised who is dealing with your complaint and when you can expect a full response from us. We aim to provide you with a full written response or response in a format acceptable to you or your appointed representative within 20 working days of receipt of the complaint.

Sometimes it will take us longer to provide a response to you. If this is likely to happen, we will contact you to let you know when you can expect a full response from us and the reason for the delay.

Stage 2
If you are not happy with the outcome of the first stage investigation of your complaint or if the problem/complaint has continued, you can request that the complaint be considered at the next stage of our process by The Chief Executive and members of the Board of Management.

Your complaint should be made to the Chief Executive within twenty working days from the date of the response letter to your initial complaint. If possible, please provide the reference number of your original complaint and contact details in case we need to clarify something with you.

Your complaint will be acknowledged within 5 working days and we will advise when you can expect a full written response or response in a format acceptable to you or your appointed representative. The Chief Executive will ensure that an investigation of your complaint will be conducted and you should receive a full response within 20 working days of receipt of the complaint. A response may take longer if your complaint is more complex but we will contact you to let you know when you can expect a full response and the reason for the delay.
After the final response, or response in a format acceptable to you or your appointed representative has been sent by NEWINGTON HA in either stages 1 or 2, if NEWINGTON HA has not received a response from the complainant within 20 working days of the date of posting of the full written response or response in a format acceptable to you or your appointed representative, the complaint will be considered resolved for administrative purposes. This does not prevent further re-examination of the issues by either party at a later date, or the complaint being taken forward to another stage.

Stage 3
If your complaint has been considered at both stages and you are still not satisfied with the outcome, the Ombudsman (the Commissioner for Complaints) may consider a complaint for you.

The Ombudsman will only consider complaints that have already been through the full internal complaint procedure.

The Ombudsman is completely independent of NEWINGTON HA and NEWINGTON HA will co-operate fully in the course of any investigation carried out by the Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman Service can be contacted at:
NI Ombudsman, Freepost BEL1478, BELFAST, BT1 6BR
Or NI Ombudsman, Progressive House, 33 Wellington Place, BELFAST, BT1 6HN
Freephone: 0800 343424
Tel: 028 9023 3821
Fax: 028 9023 4912
Email: ombudsman@ni-ombudsman.org.uk
Web-site: www.ni-ombudsman.org.uk

6.0 Confidentiality

We will respect our duty of confidentiality in dealing with the information you have given us in connection with your complaint. Your name will not be made known to other parties, whether in proceedings relating to the complaint or not, unless it is necessary to assist in reaching a mutually acceptable resolution.

However, if your complaint involves another resident or a member of staff, a fair appraisal of the events will not be possible without talking to that person. Without this, the chances of reaching a satisfactory resolution to your concerns will be much reduced.

7.0 Anonymous Complaints

Anonymous complaints received will be referred to a senior manager of the service department concerned, who will review the complaint and decide if the matter needs to be investigated further.

Anonymous complaints can rarely be properly investigated, because of insufficient verifiable information, and so the benefit of the doubt is likely to be granted to the alleged perpetrator of the incident on the “innocent until proved guilty” principle, because of insufficient reliable evidence.

8.0 Third Party Complainants

Where a complaint has been made on behalf of a service user by a third party, Newington HA reserves the right to seek confirmation that the third party has obtained the service users consent to make the complaint on their behalf.

9.0 Recording and process outcome monitoring

Complaints can help us to improve. All complaints forwarded to the Association are recorded.
In addition to the ongoing review of complaints by the Chief Executive on monthly basis, all complaints will be presented to the relevant Directorate Sub-committees or Full Board at least four times per year, for identification of trends, and confirmation of corrective and preventive actions taken, where necessary.

10.0 Useful contact details

Newington Housing Association Tel: 028 9074 4055
300 – 302 Limestone Road, Belfast, BT15 3AR

NIHE Tel: 03448 920 900
The Housing Centre, 2 Adelaide Street, Belfast BT2 8PB
AGE NI Tel: 028 9024 5729
(combining Age Concern NI & Help the Aged in Northern Ireland)
3 Lower Crescent, Belfast, BT7 1NR

Citizens Advice Bureau Tel: 028 9023 1120
Regional Office, 46 Donegall Pass, Belfast, BT7 1BS

11.0 References

Complaints Form

 

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