We held three meetings with Resident Panel members in July 2021 focused on the development of our three-year corporate plan for 2022-25.
As set out in the Panel’s terms of reference, there will be two key topics each year involving meetings for all members followed by a discussion forum with up to 100 residents participating each time. The three-year corporate plan was the first topic for 2021-22, seeking input from residents at an early stage of its development.
Full panel meetings
All panel members were invited to one of two meetings which provided an overview of our corporate planning process, how the plan is developed and who is involved. These meetings provided early engagement with panel members on the plan and its alignment to our four values of fairness, learning, openness and excellence.
During this session we held three polls to get members views on complaints and accessing our service:
- If you have an unresolved dispute with your landlord, which route would you choose first to get a fair outcome for your complaint?
- The top answer was the Ombudsman at 63%
- What tools do you think will be most useful for residents to help progress a complaint with a landlord?
- The two joint top answers were Factsheets/leaflets and Template letters
- Why might a resident not bring their complaint to the Ombudsman?
- The top answer was Don’t know how/not confident on the process at 38%
The full results are set out in the Helpful link (see right).
We were also joined by four panel members from across the country who spoke about their involvement in housing and why they wanted to join the panel. Thank you to Janet Storar, Larry Shelbourne, Tom Dalton and Kerry Thompson for their insightful contributions.
The last section of each meeting was an online Q&A session with all Panel members and the Ombudsman team. The session covered areas such as:
- the need to raise awareness of the Ombudsman service among residents and exploring different ways of doing that
- building trust in the complaints process
- more information on systemic investigations and how they could impact on residents
- the potential for private landlords to be within the Ombudsman’s remit
- our work around using mediation to resolve complaints
- ensuring the needs of people with disabilities are considered and met
Special interest discussion forum
One hundred panel members were invited to take part in a further meeting where the two topics of raising awareness and digitisation were discussed in smaller groups. Some of the key points highlighted from those discussions were:
- Currently there is low visibility of the Ombudsman service among the majority of residents – the engaged residents on the panel are aware, but not others
- Needs to be a breadth of communication methods used to raise awareness including for residents who don’t have online access
- Need better understanding of when residents can contact our service
- Landlords have a bigger part to play in raising awareness – and it should be mandatory - but not to rely on landlords as the only way of raising awareness
- Welcome packs for new tenants should include information about the Ombudsman service and then there needs to be continuous activity to keep residents aware during their tenancy
- Aspects of the Ombudsman service that should be promoted are that it’s a free and independent service
- Online service needs to be simple and straightforward
- Benefits of digitisation could be that it speeds up the service so more residents could be helped and may encourage groups of residents, such as younger people, to use the service
- Online tracking of complaints would be very useful, including being able to see timescale for responses and who is dealing with individual cases
- Should consult experts on ensuring that digitisation is accessible for varying needs of residents with disabilities
Actions and next steps
The feedback from all of the Resident Panel meetings will be used to help shape our Corporate Plan 2022-25. This is due to be published in the autumn for consultation. It will be an open consultation that all Resident Panel members will be invited to respond on.