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Thursday, 16 December 2010

Localisation Bill - Social Housing Complaints

Housing News....

The Local Government Ombudsman is to lose complaints about the provision and management of social housing to a cross-sector housing ombudsman.

The Localism Bill , published on Monday, is to end the system of two separate ombudsmen handling social housing complaints in England.

The DCLG says that a single Ombudsman specialising in complaints about social housing will ensure consistency, and provide a common route of redress for all social housing tenants. If there is an overlap with the responsibilities of the Local Government Ombudsman, they may carry out a joint investigation.

The Bill also introduces a new "democratic filter" for complaints - the Ombudsman will not be able to investigate until a written referral is made by an MP, local councillor or a designated tenant panel.

5 comments:

  1. I'm personally shocked by the news that the Localism Bill introduces a 'democratic filter' for social housing complaints. The need for a written referral by a MP, Cllr or Tenants Panel will simply create a barrier and have an impact to the detriment of some of the most needy in society. The provision of a single Ombudsman for social housing complaints has some sense although I would have possibly thought the Welsh and Scottish models to be a better solution ie one Ombudsman scheme for public services. Now we have a situation where the local authorities with housing stock will now need to deal with two Ombudsmen - and will they require different processes? This will increase costs due to the need to publicise and deal with different schemes. In my experience, housing management complaints overlap more frequently with other services than other complaints ie homelessness, social care, environmental services. Anyone else have a view on this?

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  2. The Idea of Localisation and empowerment of people AWARE of local issues and problems, in some way makes sense.
    The Social Housing Complaints procedure proposed makes it more understandable and transparent, in my own opinion. It will in most instances clarify, and filter malicious complainers, as the structure for referral to Ombudsman involves people who will have empowerment and strength to exercise a power and back up to the complaint if genuine. Blocking a complaint would be gross misconduct,and penalised, publicly accountable etc. if the blockage was proven draconian and false based blockage. The overlapping issues can be taken as a joint investigation, however, it apparently has been shown that overlaps rarely occur to the proposed structure. If the RSL or ALMO has , say 10000 properties, and unique demographics and social issues, surely it makes sense for local filtration and back up through the proposed filtration structure. This may indeed assist deprived areas and complainants within those areas with weight of MP, or councillor justifying the complaint.

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  3. The use of a filter will certainly delay complaints and justice delayed is justice denied. Very, very few complaints to Ombudsman schemes are malicious (excepting perhaps the Standards Board) and it should be for the Ombudsman to make that decision. As a citizen it should be my choice to involve a politician in my complaint - and of course many people do exercise that right and get their local councillor or MP involved to make a complaint on their behalf and that is already allowed in the existing Ombudsman processes and also local complaint procedures. Those MPs and local councillors that represent areas with large social housing stock are already very aware of the issues raised through their casework but also through their scrutiny role. There are no other Ombudsmen schemes in the world - apart from the Parliamentary Ombudsman in the UK (MP filter) - that attempt to filter complaints. The experience of the Parliamentary Ombudsman and findings from research show that a filter serves to reduce complaints. Earlier this year the cross-party Public Administration Select Committee made strong recommendations on removing the MP filter. The Local Government Ombudsman's Cllr filter was removed many years ago.

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  4. Anne said:
    This is a Regionalisation Bill with its elected Mayors the people in certain parts of the UK rejected.

    Mr Secretary Pickles presented a Bill to make provision about the functions and procedures of local and certain other authorities; to make provision about the functions of the Local Commission for Administration in England; to enable the recovery of financial sanctions imposed by the Court of Justice of the European Union on the United Kingdom from local and public authorities; to make provision about local government finance; to make provision about town and country planning, the Community Infrastructure Levy and the authorisation of nationally significant infrastructure projects; to make provision about social and other housing; to make provision about regeneration in London; and for connected purposes.

    National Infrastructure Plan (Implementing TEN-T?)

    2.3 The Government plans that over the next five years, some £200 billion will be invested in UK economic infrastructure – a step change from the past.5 The majority of investment will be in transport and energy, with investment in the energy sector almost doubling between 2010 and 2015.

    The Government will consult on options for changes to the electricity market later this year.
    On page 24, showing all 12 EU Regions of the EU now in the UK.
    http://infrastructure.independent.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/nationalinfrastructureplan251010.pdf

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  5. Thanks to Anne for her comment. The Main post was the Housing Complaints related aspect, and referred to HOUSING.
    It is understood that there are more aspects to the regulatory changes.

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