We have published our three-year corporate plan for 2022-25 setting out our response to an unprecedented increase in demand for our service and how we will work across the sector to promote fairness through our investigations, strengthen local complaint handling and encourage learning to improve services.
The plan reinforces the changing role and importance of complaint handling and comes at a period of significant change for the social housing sector and our service. The Social Housing White Paper has seen increased resident awareness of their right to complain, and since our Complaint Handling Code was implemented, complaints have been coming through landlords’ complaints processes more quickly in line with the timescales set out in the Code.
Over the next three years the plan prioritises the delivery of high-quality, timely and inquisitorial Ombudsman decisions. It sets out ambitious goals built around our four values of fairness, learning, openness and excellence. Within these are three key strategic programmes aiming to:
- Extend fairness – by supporting early resolution at a local level, strengthening the framework for Ombudsman investigations, enhanced thematic insights and systemic investigations, providing evidence to support an extension to its powers and closing gaps in redress
- Encourage learning – through a new Centre for Learning, that champions learning from complaints among social landlords, and driving a positive complaints culture
- Increase openness – through raising awareness and building understanding of the Ombudsman among all residents and collaborating with partners to extend the reach of the service.
Richard Blakeway, Housing Ombudsman, said: “We are experiencing a demand for our service that is unprecedented in our 25-year history. In addition, future policy changes to improve access to complaints and the impact of building safety are likely to sustain higher volumes of casework.
“We have set out an ambitious plan to grow and improve our service. At its heart is our casework and investigations. An Ombudsman’s investigation can have profound impact, both putting something right for the resident if it has gone wrong and encouraging organisational learning by the landlord to improve services and prevent future failure.”
“We will also build on the positive impact of our Complaint Handling Code to create a centre that champions learning among social landlords to improve services and potentially prevent complaints.
“Social housing is a unique sector deserving an independent, proactive and visible Ombudsman to support it. We believe our values-driven plan delivers that.”
There was very strong support for our plans during last year’s consultation from landlords, residents and stakeholders. Since then demand for the service has increased further with casework volumes more than doubling compared to the same period in 2020-21. The plan includes a revised three-year cap to the subscription fee at £5.30 per unit and fee of £4.60 for 2022-23. We will seek the sector’s view on the exact fee for each of the following years within its business plan consultations.