Compliments or Complaints, Comments or Suggestions – we need your feedback
Your feedback is important as it tells us what we are doing well, and when we need to improve. Whatever your experience, good or bad, we need to hear from you so we can continually improve and take action to put things right when they have gone wrong. If you have any suggestions on how we could do things differently or make improvements please let us know.
There are several ways you can give us feedback:
- In writing – Housing Services, Wealden District Council, Council Offices, Vicarage Lane, Hailsham. East Sussex BN27 2AX
- In person to a member of staff or contractor
- Completing and returning satisfaction surveys
Compliments – tell us when things have gone well
Please let us know when you have been happy with something we have done, this tells us what parts of our service are working well, for example:
- When a service we provide has improved things for you
- When a repair or property improvement has been done well
- Contact with a member of Housing staff has been positive and helpful
- Compliment a member of staff or one of our contractors who has gone the extra mile to get things done
Complaints – we need to know when things go wrong
It is also important that we know as soon as possible when things have not gone so well. This is so we can investigate what has happened and take action to put things right if needed. Please get in touch using any of the methods above so we can contact you as soon as possible.
View further information on what is considered a formal complaint. If your problem is not considered a “formal complaint” under our complaints procedure please still contact the Housing Service and we will work with you to try and resolve it. Formal complaints are dealt with by our corporate team and other complaints within the Housing Service.
The Council also has a formal two stage complaints procedure. View more information to help you understand whether you have grounds for a stage 2 review of your case, as well as potential outcomes of complaints.
View more information on our corporate complaints procedure
View more about the formal housing complaints that we have received.
Escalating your complaint:
If you remain unhappy having been through our two stage formal complaints process you can:
If you are a council tenant, you can contact the Housing Ombudsman Service
If you are a housing applicant, you can contact the Local Government Ombudsman
or telephone 0300 061 0614
The Government has launched a new ‘Make Things Right’ campaign which will help social housing residents to raise complaints if they are unhappy with their landlord and are struggling to get their problems resolved. More information is available on their website.
We have been listening
We have been listening to feedback from our customers and we are pleased to tell you about some changes we have made as a result:
Following feedback in the STAR satisfaction survey, we carried out a second survey of tenants who had moved into one of our properties in the last two years. Overall the feedback was positive, however, there was some suggestions for how we could make improvements:
You told us:
There should be more time to view and move into a property that you have been offered.
What we have done:
Unfortunately we can’t give people more time to move, because an empty property costs us money in lost rent, which means we then have less money for work such as modernisations and improvements.
We also recognise that is important to having as much information as possible before looking around a property. We have therefore increased the information and photos that are available when an empty property is advertised.
You told us:
Some of you were not satisfied with the condition and cleanliness of the property when you moved in
What we have done:
We have raised this issue with our contractor through our monitoring meetings. Our contractors have now employed new cleaners to clean our empty properties before the new tenants move in. We will continue to carry out a monthly survey of new tenants to make sure we can respond to any issues raised and identify any areas which need further work.
Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB)
The feedback in the STAR survey in 2020 showed low satisfaction with how we handle reports of alleged Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB). Following on from this we have carried out a further, more detailed survey. You told us that you were not satisfied with how long it took us to contact you after making a complaint of ASB. You also said you were not clear on the timescales involved in dealing with cases of ASB, and didn’t understand the powers available to deal with Anti-Social Behaviour.
In response to this feedback we have produced and published a Resident’s Guide to Anti-Social Behaviour which sets out our policy and procedure for dealing with ASB. This provides timeframes for responding to reports of ASB, the powers available to deal with ASB and details of the process for taking action. We will send a copy of the Guide to everyone who reports ASB to us. The Guide is available to view or download or you can also request a paper copy by email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01323 443363.
You also told us that the diary sheets were not easy to use, so we have now reviewed and updated the sheets to make them easier to fill in. You also didn’t feel that you were kept informed about progress with your case, so now when action needs to be taken we will agree an ‘Action Plan’ with the person making the ASB report. The Action Plan will provide information and timescales for updates and feedback on progress with the case.
Our Allocations Policy lists all the rules that apply when applying for Social Housing in Wealden. Some of the rules in the 2018 policy had made it hard for some households to join the housing register (waiting list), therefore we have made some changes.
The biggest change is for the need for a ‘local connection’. In the past, if an applicant didn’t have a local connection due to their own residency (where they live), then they would have needed a close relative living in Wealden for 10 years to be able to join the Housing Register. Following your feedback, we have reduced the requirement to 5 years. We believe this will help more households qualify to join the Register.
There are other changes around Parish local connection which can be found in our Allocations Policy
We have also changed the rules around the maximum amount of savings held to eligible to apply for Retirement Living accommodation in Wealden. The amount has been increased from £6,000 to £20,000, meaning more people can apply this type of accommodation, even if they have savings. The thresholds for general needs housing are now linked to property prices.
We have made some changes to providing documents when applying for social housing. Documents can now be uploaded online on the Sussex Homemove rather than sent in by post, making the application process quicker and more efficient for you.
You also told us that the Allocations Policy was difficult to understand so we have produced a key facts version and amended our website to explain the process in stages.
You Said, We Did 2022…
You would like us to provide a gardening/tree service for tenants?
Unfortunately, we do not have the finances to provide a free service. However, when we next procure our grounds maintenance service we will look to include a Social Value element (wider benefits) within the tender specification asking if the companies tendering could provide this service and how much they would charge tenants for this service.
Wildlife gardens start off well and then decline and start to get over grown and look untidy.
In developing wildlife gardens in the future on land owned by us, we will put in place an arrangement for some maintenance to take place, or hand management over to the Resident Association.
You don’t understand the term Local Offer.
We are required by the Housing Regulator to produce annual “Local Offers” but we are now calling these “Our Service Commitments to You”. You will find out more about these on pages 8-16.
Sussex Home Move Website
Housing Applications would benefit from better/more information on the Sussex Home Move website when searching for a property. We took on board the comments made, listened and have explored options available at this stage. While we do not have the resources for redesigning the floor plans on older properties in a format appropriate for advertising, we will be providing pictures and plans on our new builds. In addition to this, we are in the process of working on a Google maps function to place with the advert. Our long-term plan is to look at the entire empty property process and how this can work when advertising a property.
Recruitment of Housing Officer
Tenants were advising us that they are sometimes unable to get hold of a Housing Officer. We have recruited another Officer to help with workload and availability. Working alongside the Housing Officers, we have 3 Estate Wardens who work generically across the district.
Tenant Incentive Scheme
You said you would like an immediate email confirmation when you apply for the Transfer Incentive Scheme online. We asked our Digital Services Team to make this amendment, and it is now live.
Following feedback, we have added a gender neutral Title to our housing database system so that those individuals who wish to be known as something other than the standard titles (Mr, Miss, Mrs etc) can now use Mx followed by their first name and last name. We want to be seen as giving individuals the opportunity to be known by what they wish to be known as, rather than what our computer system dictates.
A tenant reported that they were unhappy with the way an Officer in Housing had spoken to them. We do need to have difficult conversations with customers from time to time and we are arranging training for Officers so they are more able to manage these conversations in a supportive way.
Termination of a Lease
A relative complained about delays when terminating a lease. While this can be a lengthy process, we have looked at how we can speed up the process, what information we provide and training for staff covering colleagues who are absent.
You wanted to be able to see your at a time which suits you. So we have created an online booking system which allows you to access the housing officers diary and book a Teams meeting with them.
Also see our learning from our formal complaints