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Compliments and complaints policy

Compliments and Complaints Policy


1. Positive comments (compliments) are valuable feedback and learning opportunities. Compliments will be shared with staff and where appropriate the details will be publicised within the organisation.

2. Managers will make time to recognise good work, especially if feedback is received directly from a customer.

3. Praising staff, recognising good work and providing positive feedback is as important as responding to complaints.

4. Compliments will be acknowledged and the customer thanked for taking the time to contact us.


5. Northwards Housing welcomes complaints so that we can learn lessons and improve our performance. We will provide feedback to customers about the outcomes of different types of complaints and how we use that information to drive improvement of services.

6. This policy is designed to make the process simple and accessible to all; aiming to make the overall process a positive experience for the customer.

7. We will investigate any complaint where it is alleged that Northwards Housing is: - Failing to fulfil its responsibilities, carry out a policy or provide a service in line with Regulatory Framework for Social Housing in England; - Failing to achieve the stated local standards of service offered to customers; - Failing to take into account matters that ought to have been considered when coming to or implementing a decision; Acted unfairly or with bias.

8. All complaints will be considered in a fair and impartial manner. Managers have a responsibility to seek advice if needed before responding to a complaint and if appropriate will consider asking a colleague, not directly responsible for the service area that is being complained about, or at a different work location, to investigate a complaint. This could be particularly helpful if partiality or bias is being alleged, or if the complaint is about the person who would normally respond to the complaint. 

9. The person responding to the complaint will be responsive, approachable and helpful at all stages of the process, making time where appropriate to contact the complainant personally by telephone or face to face to discuss their concerns prior to, or as part of their investigation.

10.Northwards Housing’s close working relationships with its contractors means that when a complaint is received involving their performance, we will work together to produce a response so that all parties agree and learn lessons from the complaint. We will endeavour to make sure that any complaint involving compensation is resolved quickly between all parties.

11.Northwards Housing does not distinguish between formal and informal complaints. All complaints will be taken seriously and acted upon regardless of perceived severity. We may also carry out periodic analysis of the reasons customers complain to identify any trends in dissatisfaction with the service.

12.We will accept complaints from advocates acting on behalf of customers providing they are properly authorised to do so.

13.It is not necessary for complaints to be made in writing, although the person listening to the complaint may choose to keep a written record of the complaint in addition to recording this on the central logging system. All responses will be made or confirmed in writing (which could include email), using plain language and avoiding the use of technical jargon wherever possible. Responses will be concise. If appropriate, especially where complex issues need to be explained, we will talk directly to the complainant about the outcome of the investigation prior to sending a written response.

14.Whilst we aim to make sure that satisfaction with the complaints process is high, we recognise that not all complaints are upheld. This can have an impact upon the customer’s overall perception of the way they feel their complaint has been handled. We will take this into account when reviewing satisfaction.

15.Northwards Housing recognises that it can be a daunting experience for some customers to pursue a complaint, especially if they are worried about how it will be received, or if they feel anxious about the potential outcome. We will approach complaints in a positive and proactive manner, communicating empathy and concern to the complainant. We will treat complainants with respect, taking into account individual communication needs as far as is reasonably practicable. We will consider where appropriate the capacity of the customer to understand the process and / or the outcome of the investigation; and if necessary seek additional support for the customer to support communication e.g. working in partnership with interpreters, carers or support agencies.

16.Where complaints are received relating to the services of Manchester City Council or a third party, we will provide appropriate signposting and advice as to how to pursue the complaint.

17.The person responding to the complaint will take ownership of the complaint, agreeing with them what remedial action needs to be taken within an agreed timescale. Where agreement cannot be reached we will explain why.

18.Where it is decided that different and distinct elements of the complaint should be dealt with separately, this should be clearly communicated.

19.Complaints are treated as a valuable source of feedback and will be used to make sure lessons are learned from mistakes or omissions. We will provide explanations when something goes wrong and offer an apology if appropriate; and if appropriate also consider compensation or reimbursement in line with Northwards’ policy. The numbers and type of complaints will be publicised on our website and we will monitor trends in complaints to make sure overall performance, including the work of contractors and sub contractors, continually improves, ensuring a ‘right first time’ approach.

20.We will advise people of their right of appeal when informing them of the outcome of their complaint.

21.Occasionally a complaint or contact arises from recent contacts initiated by the customer expressing dissatisfaction with a “live” situation that is still unresolved. In situations like this, where despite the best efforts of front facing staff the issue is proving difficult to resolve, staff are empowered to escalate the issue.

22.Complaints made via the Board or Chief Executive will be recorded on the central complaints logging system and investigated in line with this policy.

23.The quality of our complaints handling is important, and complaints will be sampled from time to time for quality, with feedback from this shared appropriately within the organisation.

24.Complaints received via Manchester City Council will be dealt with according to Northwards’ Complaints Policy and Procedure; and will also be subject to any additional requirements in place at the time, such as responses being copied to a designated officer in the Council.

25.Ombudsman complaints will be dealt with according to separate arrangements agreed with Manchester City Council. Responses will always be signed off by the relevant Director.

26.We will not normally investigate complaints where the matter being complained about is or has been the subject of legal proceedings.

Vexatious Complaints

27.From time to time we receive complaints from people who are unwilling to accept the outcome of an investigation even after that decision has been reviewed and appealed. There are also some customers who persistently make complaints which are malicious and/or without foundation. In cases where people continue to complain without reasonable cause, Northwards Housing has a procedure to ensure fairness and consistency is applied across the organisation and to make sure resources are appropriately directed to dealing with genuine complaints. 

Anonymous Complaints

28.It is good practice to investigate all complaints even if the source of the complaint is unknown. Therefore anonymous complaints must be dealt with using the normal complaints process and the investigating officer must keep a copy of the complaint on file together with details of the action taken. This is in case the complainant comes forward at a later date or a similar complaint is made by another customer.

Performance Standards

• We aim to resolve all complaints at the earliest possible stage.

• Complaints will be processed wherever possible within 10 working days.

• The overall service standard for responding to complaints places emphasis on doing what is right, such as reaching a mutually agreed timescale with the complainant for providing a full response where necessary, rather than providing a poor quality response to a complex complaint within 10 working days. Quality as well as time is important.

• We will communicate with complainants face to face or by telephone in all cases where it is appropriate and practicable to do so.

• We will publicise information about complaints performance.

• Complaints will be recorded and we will monitor lessons learned to ensure they are embedded in the organisation.

• Complaints activity and performance will be reported regularly to the responsible Board Sub-Committee.

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