The Housing Ombudsman Denise Fowler has published a consultation paper on her proposed plans and budget for 2017-18, including the level of subscription fee, plus an update on performance for the current year.
The paper sets out the improvements made to the service this year resulting in significant operating efficiencies. Staff productivity has increased considerably so the number of complaints closed per caseworker has increased from 198 to 207. In addition:
- the service is on track to issue around 1,400 determinations by March 2017, a 30% increase on 2015-16
- the backlog of cases over 12 months old has been eliminated
- average case times for investigation and determination are reducing and expected to be around 8 months by March 2017, down from 9.5 months last year
- 100% of the Ombudsman’s orders are implemented within three months
- 95% of participants taking part in our training and support for landlords say it has helped them improve their approach to dispute resolution.
In 2017-18 productivity and efficiency gains are expected to continue as new ways of working and new systems and tools are introduced. But the service is also expecting an increase in complaints of 10% overall and a 20% increase in the number which require investigation under the Ombudsman’s formal remit.
The plan for next year, informed by feedback already received from landlords and complainants and to be finalised following consultation, is to set a subscription fee of £1.25 per housing unit to enable the Housing Ombudsman Service to:
- reduce average case times further
- do more work with landlords to address potential systemic problems
- continue work with both landlords and residents to improve local actions that will benefit both
- continue work to resolve complaints early.
The consultation seeks views on the proposed service, including the balance of activity between casework resolution and sector development, and the fee.
The outcome of the consultation will inform the Ombudsman’s business plan which is then submitted to the Secretary of State who must approve any increase in the subscription fee.
Denise Fowler said:
“Our vision of ‘Housing Matters: Fairness Matters’ underpins everything we do and has enabled us to deliver continuous improvements in our service.
“We know that landlords and residents continue to face new challenges and we want to support them effectively to resolve disputes and drive up housing standards. Our work helps ensure the provision of high quality homes and services across England. We aim to role model the service we expect of others so, just as we expect landlords to seek the views of tenants in designing their services, it is important that we take into account the views and insight of all our stakeholders in planning our own service and budget.”