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Complaint handling

Background information

The Housing Ombudsman Service (opens new window) published a Complaint Handling Code in July 2020 that set out good practice for all landlords. The code was reviewed and strengthened in April 2022. It aims to support effective and fair responses to all complaints raised. As part of the code, each landlord is required to complete a self-assessment.

This section provides:

What is a complaint?

A complaint is defined as the concern or dissatisfaction of a customer regarding the service, action or lack of action taken by the Council. Customers are not necessarily required to quote the words 'complain' or 'complaint' in order for the Council to recognise their dissatisfaction as a complaint.

How you can make a complaint

There are different routes by which tenants can make a complaint:

  • email
  • online
  • in person
  • letter
  • phone
  • through the tenant's MP and councillor using an agreed third party
  • advocate
  • solicitor
  • Citizens Advice Bureau
  • any other reasonable request

All reasonable adjustments would be taken into account on request and we welcome feedback.

For more information on making a complaint please see our Comments, compliments and complaints page.

How we tell residents about what we have learned from complaints

We raise awareness of how to complain or make a compliment through:

  • the Great Yarmouth Borough Council website
  • the Tenancy Services Team advice via the phone or in person
  • the newsletter for tenants (News and Views)
  • written correspondence with tenants, leaseholders and residents
  • messages shared on the Resident Engagement Facebook page

How we handle complaints

The complaints process is managed by the Corporate Services Team which oversees all complaints received into the Council.

Where a complaint contains multiple elements that span across services, the Corporate Services Team will determine the principal elements of the complaint and allocate it to a Head of Service responsible for these to answer. The Head of Service will then take responsibility for drawing together responses to the remaining elements of the complaint from other services, in order to provide the customer with a comprehensive response that encompasses all aspects of their complaint.

The complaints process has three prescribed stages: 

  • The process begins with an informal (Stage 1) complaint. 
  • If the issues raised are not satisfactorily resolved, the customer can escalate their complaint to a formal (Stage 2) complaint.
  • If the customer remains unsatisfied with the response they receive at Stage 2, they are able to escalate their complaint onto the final stage (Stage 3) of the complaints process.

If the customer remains discontent with the responses provided by the Council following all stages of the process, they are able to complain to the Local Government Ombudsman and, in the case of landlord duties, the Housing Ombudsman.

Most complaints are resolved at Stage 1:

  • Stage 1 complaints in 2019/20: 92% resolved
  • Stage 2 complaints in 2019/20: 8% resolved

Please note, the current three-stage complaint process was adopted in September 2020.

What we do as a result of a complaint

We have made improvements as a result of learning from complaints and looking to put things right, so they do not happen again. Improvements may take one or both of the following forms:

  • providing additional staff training (for an individual or team as required)
  • making changes to processes and procedures

We welcome engagement with residents so we can continually look at improving our services. To get involved please contact us.

The Housing Ombudsman

The Housing Ombudsman Service (opens new window) looks at complaints about registered providers of social housing including local authority housing and housing associations.

Its work includes resolving disputes impartially, providing dispute support as well as publishing insight and good practice.

The Housing Ombudsman is able to carry out thematic investigations to support the greater understanding of issues and to share best practice. Any calls for evidence and reports will be published on the Spotlight reports page of the Housing Ombudsman Service website (opens new window)

Social housing complaints: Make Things Right campaign

'Make Things Right' is a government campaign to help residents raise complaints if they are unhappy with their landlord and struggling to get problems resolved, with clear advice on how to progress issues to the Housing Ombudsman if necessary. The Social Housing Complaints - Make Things Right (opens new window) website provides information for social housing tenants on making complaints and how to get the right help and support when making a complaint.

Annual self-assessment of complaint handling

The Council is required to complete and publish an annual self-assessment against the Housing Ombudsman Service: Complaint Handling Code (opens new window) to ensure our process remains in line with the requirements of this code.

This code is split into eight sections:

  1. how a complaint is defined
  2. how accessible it is to make a complaint and how residents are aware
  3. who handles complaints
  4. how complaints are handled
  5. the complaint stages
  6. putting things right
  7. continuous learning and improvement
  8. compliance

Please see our Complaint handling code self-assessment information for full details of how we meet each section of the code.

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