An update from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) Social Housing Technical Sub-Committee.
The Housing Ombudsman’s Complaint Handling Code (referred to hereafter as ‘the Code') as published in July 2020 enables landlords to resolve complaints raised by their residents quickly. It also encourages using the learning from complaints to drive service improvements. It aims to help to create a positive complaint handling culture amongst landlord staff and residents.
Paragraph 6.11 of the Code requires landlord to disclose learning and improvement from complaints in the annual report.
The Housing Ombudsman expects the learning and improvement to cover complaints that housing associations try and resolve both formally and informally. However, the Housing Ombudsman does not stipulate a standard system of complaint. It is for each individual housing association to find a system of learning which suits them best.
Last year, the Housing Ombudsman recognised that it may have been difficult for some landlords to include this information in the Annual Report for 2020/21 however they do expect to see this information included in future Annual Reports.
Following this, the ICAEW Social Housing Technical Sub-Committee sought clarification from the Housing Ombudsman on whether this reporting was expected to be in the statutory and audited annual report prepared by housing association or whether the reporting was to be included in the Annual Reports for residents.
The Housing Ombudsman has provided clarification on the matter and confirmed that ‘To be Code compliant organisational learning from complaints needs to be included in the Annual Report for residents. We would however encourage landlords not to restrict themselves to this and to consider reporting on learning in their audited Annual Report also.’
We hope the above provides some helpful clarification on the reporting requirements of the Code as housing associations come up to annual reporting season.