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Housing Ombudsman forecasts increase in enquiries and complaints during 2021/22 as a result of pandemic

The Housing Ombudsman has predicted that the volume of enquiries and complaints the service receives will continue to rise in 2021/22, and that there will be a growing number of more complex complaints requiring investigation of a landlord’s actions in the light of Covid-19 alongside the complaint itself.

Publishing its business plan for 2021/22, the Ombudsman said the impact of Covid-19 would continue to be felt over the 12-month period.

It noted that the Social Housing White Paper emphasised the importance of the Ombudsman’s service and the role of redress.

“Work has already started on the two key priorities of closer working with the Regulator of Social Housing and raising awareness of its service with residents,” the Housing Ombudsman service said.

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“The revised memorandum of understanding with the Regulator increases the areas for sharing information and potential referral including those arising from the Ombudsman’s new systemic framework. Resident engagement activities under way include the Ombudsman’s new Resident Panel and Meet the Ombudsman events, hosted by landlords.”

During 2020-21 the Ombudsman has been implementing a new operating model for its dispute support and resolution service. This had brought a reduction in its average determination times while maintaining quality, it suggested, adding that a redesigned organisation had also seen improvements on accessibility and promoting positive change in the sector.

The service said that the focus in 2021-22 would be on embedding these changes with the aim of providing a more responsive dispute support service, a further reduction in average determination times and publishing a wider range of information and tools to increase transparency and share learning. 

Richard Blakeway, Housing Ombudsman, said: “Our service has made solid progress towards the goals set out in our corporate plan. Even with the challenge of Covid-19 we have been able to improve our performance over the year and I am immensely proud of our committed, diverse and talented team.

“This year has seen major changes with the introduction of the revised Housing Ombudsman Scheme, the Complaint Handling Code, systemic powers and increased openness and transparency through the publication of landlord reports and decisions. Our plans for 2021-22 continue to be ambitious with a key focus on embedding our changes and promoting learning when things go wrong. We are grateful to all those who responded to our consultation on the business plan.”

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