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Governing body response to performance in complaints 2023-24

Statement from the Longhurst Group Board on the Complaints Performance and Service Improvement Report 2023/24

The 2023/24 financial year was a challenging year for the Group with a number of factors contributing to a significant increase in customer dissatisfaction and complaints. The main factor which has led to an increase in customer complaints has been a backlog of reactive repair jobs.  The Group Board have taken this performance very seriously and held additional scrutiny over Group complaints to ensure that not only redress is made where things have gone wrong, but also that the Group and its colleagues learn from complaints to improve services for all customers.

The Group Board have overseen significant investment and changes to the way complaints are handled within the organisation and are confident that the new measures have improved the Group’s performance in respect of complaints and will ensure that the customer voice is heard clearly throughout the organisation, including at the Board table.

As part of this journey, the Group Board has established a new committee, the Customer Experience Committee, whose role is to fully scrutinise all aspects of complaints, repairs and customer insight mechanisms in more detail. This Committee is responsible for escalating any concerns or areas of opportunity to the Group Board that would enhance the customer experience and improve performance.

The Group’s Member Responsible for Complaints is the Chair of the Customer Experience Committee and he and the other Committee Members have challenged and scrutinised the Group’s self-assessment of the Housing Ombudsman’s new Complaints Code, which came into effect on 1st April 2024. Thus, ensuring that the information provided is accurate and a true reflection of the Group’s performance and customer experience.

Whilst the Group Board is pleased to report that the Group is compliant with the requirements of the Code from 1st April 2024, it acknowledges that given challenges with high volumes of complaints linked to repair delays, the Group was not compliant under the provisions of the Code applicable prior to 1st April 2024. The challenges that the Group faced in respect of the performance of its repairs contractors have been addressed and hence performance has significantly improved.

Learning from complaints is an important part of the Group’s response when things go wrong.  The Group Board receive an update on complaints performance at every meeting and the Board ensure that individual complaint cases that are required to be reported to the Board have appropriate action and learning plans in place to address service failures.  Engaging with our customers is a key part of the Board’s work and this has included face to face meetings with customers where service failures have occurred to assure them that the Board are listening and driving change.

The Group is confident that it is compliant with the new requirements of the Ombudsman’s Code and to further improve its performance, is working with independent advisers during the rest of the year to ensure that the control environment is robust and that we remain compliant.

Although challenges remain, the investment and significant changes made over the past year mean that the Group’s performance has improved dramatically and ensures that our customers remain at the heart of everything we do.

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