Complaint Handling Code
Our consultation on the Joint Handling Code with the Housing Ombudsman Service
Our consultation is now closed. We are considering the responses we have received and will publish our response in due course.
Given that some councils are within both Ombudsman’s jurisdictions, we have partnered to make the joint Code the single gold standard for complaint handling in the local government sector. We believe a joint Code will make it easier for your organisation to have confidence that it is employing best practice and for local people to hold councils and social landlords to account. It will also align complaints about housing management, which are already subject to the Code through the Housing Ombudsman Scheme, with other local authority services.
You can find out more about the Housing Ombudsman's separate consultation here.
The challenges in local government and housing are significant and the complaints received by the Housing Ombudsman and Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman are increasing in both volume and complexity. This demands an innovative response that supports councils and social landlords to deal with complaints effectively and will improve standards, resulting in better services for local people.
We know councils face significant challenges at this time. Despite this, many local authorities deliver a good standard of service to their residents. We believe that, by using the joint Code, your organisation will be better equipped to gather evidence to identify strengths and weaknesses in the services you deliver, enabling you to make better use of your limited resources.
The quality of complaint handling within an organisation and the willingness to learn from complaints is an essential measure of corporate health. The Code puts complaint handling at the heart of corporate governance in councils, requiring regular reporting of performance allowing for effective scrutiny of service delivery.
The Code will not apply to areas where there are already statutory complaints processes such as certain complaints about adults and children’s social care services.
The Code puts responsibility on councils to put things right as soon as possible without the public having to escalate their concerns to the Ombudsman. This is not an attempt to regulate complaint handling. It is our strong belief that there should be a single model of complaint handling which makes it easier for local people to hold their local authority or social landlord to account.
The joint Code applies to local councils. At this stage, it does not apply to the other organisations we investigate.
We intend to issue the Code under our power to issue “advice and guidance about good administrative practice” to the organisations we deal with under section 23(12A) of the Local Government Act 1974. Therefore the Code will be statutory guidance for local councils. This consultation will also enable the Housing Ombudsman to make its existing Complaint Handling Code – which is the basis for our joint Code – statutory under the Social Housing (Regulation) Act.