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The Housing Ombudsman has said residents are vital to the service moving forwards, and urged more to come forward to share their views and experiences.
Speaking at the HQN annual conference, Richard Blakeway spoke proudly about the service’s 600 strong Resident Panel but said that was not the only way to get involved and shape the future.
He said: “There are a number of ways in which we are working with Resident Panel members. They are on the panel for three years and will give them a voice on all that we do.
“In the damp and mould call for evidence, a lot of the respondents are going to be residents. I hope we are able to make meaningful recommendations based on the real experiences of residents.
“And when we have calls for evidence, when we have consultations, please do share your views. It is not just on the Resident Panel where you can share those views.”
Blakeway said he was pleased that the Resident Panel had residents from all tenures on it, and those from all over the country.
In terms of age, 74% are over 50 and only 1% are 16-24, which once again shows the need for better engagement by the sector for that younger generation.
Turning to the work of the Housing Ombudsman in the past year, which was praised by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in a separate session at the annual conference, Blakeway said the work so far had been “really important”.
He added: “I think the Complaint Handling Code has been really important to set a standard and an expectation on what good looks like and what a positive complaint culture looks like.
“Having the Complaint Handling Failure Orders means we are able to do a lot more earlier in the complaint stage.
“Most of the Complaint Handling Failure Orders have so far been issued before the complaint has reached us.”
When asked by delegates about increasing complaints and increasing costs, he said: “I'm always concerned about cases not reaching the Ombudsman. What you don't want is to drive too hard that there is a direct cost incurred by a case going to Ombudsman. This could prevent learning from mistakes being made.
“An increase in complaints may not be as big an issue and not seeing them when we know they're there. It is when complaints rise, and maladministration rises that we need to be worried.”