HOME (Housing Options Made Easy) Argyll is a partnership approach to providing a Common Housing Register (CHR) in the Argyll and Bute Council area. The partnership is made up of:
- Argyll Community Housing Association
- Dunbritton Housing Association
- Fyne Homes
- West Highland Housing Association
- Argyll and Bute Council
HOME Argyll recognise that being well housed is one of the most important aspects of peoples’ lives and that housing can have a major impact on health and wellbeing. As far as possible, we aim to provide sustainable housing for applicants within stable communities. The approach focuses on providing easily accessible, high quality housing advice and information to all and making it as easy as possible to find suitable housing in Argyll and Bute through a single application that is assessed using the common allocations policy.
HOME Argyll is committed to providing high-quality customer services. We recognise that from time to time we will not always get it right first time and face service failures.
We value complaints and use information from them to help us improve our services.
If something goes wrong or you are dissatisfied with our services, please tell us. This document describes our complaints procedure and how to make a complaint. It also tells you about how we will handle your complaint and what you can expect from us.
When we receive a complaint, we will assess which Home Argyll partner is best placed to conduct the investigation. They will then follow their own organisation’s internal processes and procedures. All Home Argyll partners adhere to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman complaint handling procedures, and therefore a uniform approach is taken in all cases.
What is a complaint?
We regard a complaint as any expression of dissatisfaction about our action or lack of action, or about the standard of service provided by us or on our behalf. This includes any appeal regarding the allocation of points to your housing application, or where you deem an offer of housing to be unreasonable.
What can I complain about?
You can complain about things like:
• failure or refusal to provide a service
• inadequate quality or standard of service, or an unreasonable delay in providing a service
• delays in responding to enquiries or requests
• unfairness, bias or prejudice in service delivery
• lack of provision, or the provision of misleading, unsuitable or incorrect advice or information
• a repair that has not been carried out properly or in an agreed timeframe
• dissatisfaction with one of our policies or its impact on the individual
• failure to properly apply law, procedure or guidance when delivering services
• failure to follow the appropriate administrative process
• conduct, treatment by or attitude of a member of staff or contractor (except where there are arrangements in place for the contractor to handle the complaint themselves); or
• disagreement with a decision, (except where there is a statutory procedure for challenging that decision, or an established appeals process followed throughout the sector).
Your complaint may involve more than one organisation or service or be about someone working on our behalf.
What can’t I complain about?
There are some things we can’t deal with through our complaints handling procedure. These include:
• a routine first-time request for a service
• a request for compensation only
• issues that are in court or have already been heard by a court or a tribunal (if you decide to take legal action, you should let us know as the complaint cannot then be considered under this process)
• disagreement with a decision where there is a statutory procedure for challenging that decision (such as for freedom of information and subject access requests), or an established appeals process followed throughout the sector
• a request for information under the Data Protection or Freedom of Information (Scotland) Acts
• a grievance by a staff member or a grievance relating to employment or staff recruitment
• a concern raised internally by a member of staff (which was not about a service they received, such as a whistleblowing concern)
• a concern about a child or an adult’s safety
• an attempt to reopen a previously concluded complaint or to have a complaint reconsidered where we have already given our final decision
• abuse or unsubstantiated allegations about our organisation or staff where such actions would be covered by the relevant partners internal policies and procedures or;
• a concern about the actions or service of a different organisation, where we have no involvement in the issue (except where the other organisation is delivering services on our behalf).
If other procedures or rights of appeal can help you resolve your concerns we will give information and advice to help you.
Who can complain?
Anyone who receives, requests or is directly affected by our services can make a complaint to us. This includes the representative of someone who is dissatisfied with our service (for example, a relative, friend, advocate or adviser). If you are making a complaint on someone else’s behalf, you will normally need their written consent. Please also read the section on Getting help to make your complaint below.
How do I complain?
You can complain in person at any of our partner offices, by phone, in writing, by email or by completing a complaints form which can be requested using the ‘Contact Us’ page on the Home Argyll website: www.homeargyll.co.uk
It is easier for us to address complaints if you make them quickly and directly to the service concerned. So please talk to a member of our staff at the service you are complaining about. Then they can try to resolve the issue.
When complaining, please tell us:
• your full name and contact details
• as much as you can about the complaint
• what has gone wrong; and
• what outcome you are seeking.
Argyll & Bute Council
Tel: 01546 605516
West Highland Housing Association
Tel: 01631 566451
How long do I have to make a complaint?
Normally, you must make your complaint within six months of:
• the event you want to complain about; or
• finding out that you have a reason to complain.
In exceptional circumstances, we may be able to accept a complaint after the time limit. If you feel that the time limit should not apply to your complaint, please tell us why.
Getting help to make your complaint
You may wish to get independent support or advocacy to help you progress your complaint. We accept complaints from the representative of a person who is dissatisfied with our service. We can take complaints from a friend, relative or an advocate if you have given them your consent to complain for you.
You can find out about advocates in your area by contacting either of the agencies below:
Citizens Advice Scotland
Tel: 0800 028 1456
Web: www.cas.org.uk or check phone book for your local bureau
What happens when I have complained?
We will allocate your complaint to the most appropriate partner, and will advise you who is dealing with your complaint.
Our complaints procedure has two stages.
Stage 1: Frontline response
The Home Argyll partner dealing with your complaint will aim to respond to complaints quickly (where possible, when you first tell us about the issue). This could mean an on-the-spot apology and explanation if something has clearly gone wrong, or immediate action to resolve the problem.
give you their decision at stage 1 in five working days or less, unless there
are exceptional circumstances.
If you are not satisfied with the response they give at this stage, they will tell you what you can do next. If you choose to, you can take your complaint to stage 2.
You must normally ask us to consider your complaint at stage 2 either:
six months of the event you want to complain about or finding out that you have a reason to complain; or
• within two months of receiving your stage 1 response (if this is later).
In exceptional circumstances, we may be able to accept a stage 2 complaint after the time limit. If you feel that the time limit should not apply to your complaint, please tell us why.
Stage 2: Investigation
Stage 2 deals with two types of complaint: where the customer remains dissatisfied after stage 1 and those that clearly require investigation, and so are handled directly at this stage. If you do not wish your complaint to be handled at stage 1, you can ask us to handle it at stage 2 instead.
When using stage 2:
• we will acknowledge receipt of your
complaint within three working days
• we will confirm our understanding of the complaint we will investigate
and what outcome you are looking for
• we will try to resolve your complaint where we can (in some cases we
may suggest using an alternative complaint resolution approach, such
as mediation); and
• where we cannot resolve your complaint, we will give you a full response as soon as possible, normally within 20 working days.
If our investigation will take longer than 20 working days, we will tell you.
We will also tell you our revised time limits and any changes to personnel dealing with your complaint, and keep you updated on progress.
What if I’m still dissatisfied?
After we have given you our final decision, if you are still dissatisfied with our decision or the way we dealt with your complaint, you can ask the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) to look at it. The SPSO are an independent organisation that investigates complaints. They are not an advocacy or support service (but there are other organisations who can help you with advocacy or support).
You can ask the SPSO to look at your complaint if:
• you have gone all the way through our complaints handling procedure
• it is less than 12 months after you became aware of the matter you want to
complain about; and
• the matter has not been (and is not being) considered in court.
Reporting a significant performance failure to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO)
The SPSO will ask you to complete a complaint form and provide a copy of our final response to your complaint.
You can do this online at www.spso.org.uk/complain/form
Alternatively, the following contact details can be used:
99 McDonald Road
Freephone: 0800 377 7330
Online contact www.spso.org.uk/contact-us
If you would like to visit the office in person, you must arrange an appointment first by phoning 0800 377 7330 or using the online contact form on the website.