Our complaints performance information April 2020 - March 2021
The most recent financial year has been a challenging one for customer complaints. The lockdowns during the winter have resulted in extraordinary levels of customer demand, which in turn have fed through into complaints. We have worked to maintain a full service throughout this period, including for repairs, but inevitably there has been pressure on our resources.
We changed our complaints approach in February 2021 to create a process which meets the requirements of the Housing Ombudsman Complaint Handling Code. The higher volumes of complaints, with more customers seeking a formal response, has made this difficult and we are not yet managing cases to our 10-day timescale. We are working across our teams to accelerate this and we are looking to recruit staff to help to improve our response.
We received 1,174 formal complaints in 2020/21, 361 more than the year before. This increase was a result of our change in process in February 2021 and it also reflects higher levels of customer contact since September 2020.
Most of the complaints we receive are about our repairs service. It is our most significant service and delivers around 200,000 repairs each year. We see complaints relating to our approach to leaks and roofing repairs, as well as lift repairs. Also related to lockdown measures and high demand is a growth in complaints about anti-social behaviour. We have seen a trend for service charge enquiries to escalate into complaints, alongside queries linked to external wall systems and building safety. In each of these areas, there are plans in place for service improvements to reduce complaints and to support this with better communication.
Complaint satisfaction ended the year at 55% - a 1% improvement on the year before. Over the first four months of the year the overall target of 65% was met, but increased service demand and lockdown frustrations have impacted progress.
We work closely with the Housing Ombudsman Service to improve resolutions for customers. Our Complaints Board regularly reviews lessons learned where it's found we have got things wrong, both where the Service has made a finding or where we have upheld complaints ourselves. We have recruited two customer members to the board this year to help bring a customer perspective.