Complaints and concerns policy

OUR COMPLAINTS AND CONCERNS POLICY INTRODUCTION

1.1    ateb is committed to dealing effectively with any concerns or complaints you may have about our service.

1.2    We aim to clarify any issues about which you are not sure. If possible, we’ll put right any mistakes we may have made. We will provide any service you’re entitled to which we have failed to deliver.

1.3    If we got something wrong, we’ll apologise and where possible we’ll try to put things right. We also aim to learn from our mistakes and use the information we gain to improve our services.

WHEN TO USE THIS COMPLAINTS AND CONCERNS POLICY

2.1    When you express your concerns or complain to us, we will usually respond in the way we explain below.

2.2    However, sometimes there may be other more appropriate ways to deal with your concern so, rather than investigate your concern, we will explain to you where and how to take it.

2.3    Sometimes, you might be concerned about matters that are not decided by us (for example the local authority may have nominated you to a tenancy with us) and we will then advise you about how to make your concerns known.

2.4    This policy only applies if you are our customer or if we have affected you in the way we have carried out our functions as a registered social landlord. A customer is someone who legitimately lives in one of our properties and is someone who we give or sell a service to.

2.5    Our function is to provide housing for the public benefit. So this policy only applies if you have been directly affected by our provision of housing for the public benefit and you do not have any other effective remedy.

2.6    Also, this complaints and concerns policy does not apply if the matter relates to a Data Protection issue. In this circumstance, you should contact the Information Commissioner’s Office: Information Commissioner’s Office – Wales 2nd Floor, Churchill House Churchill Way, Cardiff, CF10 2HH. Telephone: 029 2067 8400 Fax: 029 2067 8399 Email: wales@ico.org.uk

HAVE YOU ASKED US YET?

3.1    If you are approaching us about a concern or complaint for the first time, then this policy doesn’t apply. You should first give us a chance to respond to you.

3.2    If you make an approach and then are not happy with our response, you will be able to make your concern known as we describe below.

INFORMAL RESOLUTION

4.1    If possible, we believe it’s best to deal with things straight away rather than try to sort them out later. If you have a concern, raise it with the person you’re dealing with. He or she will try to resolve it for you there and then.

4.2    If there are any lessons to learn from addressing your concern then the member of staff will draw them to our attention. If the member of staff can’t help, they will explain why and you can then ask for a formal investigation.

HOW TO EXPRESS CONCERN OR COMPLAIN FORMALLY

5.1    You can express your concern in any of the ways below.

  • You can ask for a copy of our form from the person with whom you are already in contact. Tell them that you want us to deal with your concern formally.
  • You can get in touch with our central complaint contact point on 01437 763688 if you want to make your complaint over the phone.
  • You can use the form on our website at www.atebgroup.co.uk
  • You can e-mail via our website.
  • You can write a letter to us at the following address:

Meyler House
St Thomas Green
Haverfordwest
Pembrokeshire
SA61 1QP

5.2    We aim to have concern and complaint forms available at all of our offices. Copies of this policy and the complaint form are available in Welsh and English and in large print. However, if our usual way of dealing with complaints makes it difficult for you to use our service, for example, if English or Welsh is not your first language or you need to engage with us in a particular way, please tell us so that we can discuss how we might help you.

DEALING WITH YOUR CONCERN

  • We will formally acknowledge your concern within 5 days in writing via email or letter.
  • We will ask you to tell us how you would like us to communicate with you and establish whether you have any particular requirements – for example if you have a disability.
  • We will deal with your concern in an open and honest way.
  • We will make sure that your dealings with us in the future do not suffer just because you have expressed concern or made a complaint.

6.1    Normally, we will only be able to look at your concerns if you tell us about them within six months. This is because it’s better to look into your concerns while the issues are still fresh in everyone’s mind. We may exceptionally be able to look at concerns which are brought to our attention later than this. However, you will have to give us strong reasons why you have not been able to bring it to our attention earlier and we will need to have sufficient information about the issue to allow us to consider it properly. (In any event, regardless of the circumstances, we will not consider any concerns about matters that took place more than three years ago).

6.2    If you’re expressing concern on behalf of somebody else, we’ll need their agreement to you acting on their behalf.

WHAT IF THERE IS MORE THAN ONE BODY INVOLVED?

7.1    If your complaint covers more than one body (for instance us and the local authority) we will usually work with them to decide who should take a lead in dealing with your concerns. You will then be given the name of the person responsible for communicating with you while we consider your complaint.

7.2    If the complaint is about a body working on our behalf (for instance repair contractors) you may wish to raise the matter informally with them first. However, if you want to express your concern or complaint formally, we will look into this ourselves and respond to you.

INVESTIGATION

8.1    We will tell you who we have asked to look into your concern or complaint. If your concern is straightforward, we’ll usually ask somebody from the service to look into it and get back to you. If it is more serious, we may use someone from elsewhere in our organisation, or we may appoint an independent investigator.

8.2    We will set out to you our understanding of your concerns and ask you to confirm that we’ve got it right.

8.3    We’ll also ask you to tell us what outcome you’re hoping for.

8.4    The person looking at your complaint will usually need to see the files we hold relevant to your complaint. If you don’t want this to happen, it’s important that you tell us.

8.5    If there is a simple solution to your problem, we may ask you if you’re happy to accept this. For example, where you asked for a service and we see straight away that you should have had it; we will offer to provide the service rather than investigate and produce a report.

8.6    We will aim to resolve concerns as quickly as possible and expect to deal with the vast majority within 28 days. If your complaint is more complex, we will:

  • Let you know within this time why we think it may take longer to investigate.
  • Tell you how long we expect it to take.
  • Let you know where we have reached with the investigation.
  • Give you regular updates, including telling you whether any developments might change our original estimate.

8.7    The person who is investigating your concerns will aim first to establish the facts. The extent of this investigation will depend on how complex and how serious the issues you have raised are. In complex cases, we will draw up an investigation plan. In some instances, we may ask to meet you to discuss your concerns. Occasionally, we might suggest mediation or another method to try to resolve disputes.

8.8    We’ll look at relevant evidence. This could include files, notes of conversations, letters, emails or whatever may be relevant to your particular concern. If necessary, we’ll talk to the staff or others involved and look at our policies and any legal entitlement and guidance.

OUTCOME

9.1    If we formally investigate your complaint, we will let you know what we have found in keeping with your preferred form of communication. This could be by letter or e-mail, for example. If necessary, we will produce a longer report. We’ll explain how and why we came to our conclusions.

9.2    If we find that we got it wrong, we’ll tell you what and why it happened. We’ll show how the mistake affected you.

9.3    If we find there is a fault in our systems or the way we do things, we’ll tell you what it is and how we plan to change things to stop it happening again.

9.4    If we got it wrong, we will always apologise.

PUTTING THINGS RIGHT

10.1    If we didn’t provide a service you should have had, we’ll aim to provide it now if that’s possible.

10.2    If we didn’t do something well, we’ll aim to put it right.

10.3    If you have lost out as a result of a mistake on our part we’ll try to put you back in the position you would have been in if we’d got it right.

10.4    If you had to pay for a service yourself, when you should have had one from us we will usually aim to make good what you have lost.

OMBUDSMAN

11.1    If we do not succeed in resolving your complaint, you may complain to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales. The Ombudsman is independent of all government bodies and can look into your complaint if you believe that you personally, or the person on whose behalf you are complaining:

  • Have been treated unfairly or received a bad service through some failure on the part of the body providing it.
  • Have been disadvantaged personally by a service failure or have been treated unfairly.

11.2    The Ombudsman expects you to bring your concerns to our attention first and to give us a chance to put things right.

You can contact the Ombudsman by:

11.3    There are also other organisations that consider complaints and concerns. For example, the Welsh Language Board about services in Welsh. We can advise you about such organisations.

LEARNING LESSONS

12.1    We take your concerns and complaints seriously and try to learn from any mistakes we’ve made.

12.2    Our Board of Management considers our response to complaints twice a year.

12.3    Where there is a need for change, we will develop an action plan setting out what we will do, who will do it and when we plan to do it by. We will let you know when changes we’ve promised have been made.

WHAT IF I NEED HELP?

13.1    Our staff will aim to help you make your concerns known to us. If you need extra assistance, we will try to put you in touch with someone who can help. You may wish to contact The Citizens Advice Bureau, Shelter Cymru or a solicitor who may be able to assist you.

13.2    You can also use these concerns and complaints policy if you are someone under the age of 18. If you need help, you can speak to someone on the Meic Helpline (phone 080880 23456, www.meiccymru.org or contact the Children’s Commissioner for Wales. Contact details are: 01792 765600 (South Wales) 01492 523333 (North Wales) post@childcomwales.org.uk www.childcom.org.uk South Wales Office: Oystermouth House Phoenix Way, Llansamlet, Swansea, SA7 9FS, North Wales Office: Penrhos Manor Oak Drive, Colwyn Bay, Conwy, LL29 7YW.

WHAT WE EXPECT FROM YOU

14.1    In times of trouble or distress, some people may act out of character. There may have been upsetting or distressing circumstances leading up to a concern or a complaint. We do not view behaviour as unacceptable just because someone is forceful or determined. We believe that all complainants have the right to be heard, understood and respected.

14.2    However, we also consider that our staff have the same rights. We, therefore, expect you to be polite and courteous in your dealings with us. We will not tolerate aggressive or abusive behaviour, unreasonable demands or unreasonable persistence. We have a separate policy to manage situations where we find that someone’s actions are unacceptable.

This Complaints and concerns policy was approved by the Board in October 2016 and will be subject to review in 24 months’ time.

 

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