Complaints and feedback
We aim to give you the best customer-focused experience we can, and we welcome your feedback - including complaints. Your feedback gives us an opportunity to learn and improve, as it helps us to identify both what we are doing well, and things we could do better.
Before we explain how the process works, here are some key definitions:
Service request: This is a request from you for a service from Gateshead Council. This will be your first contact to us, for example: an initial repair report, or a request for support with an antisocial behaviour issue. You can contact us via our online web form.
Complaint: If you are dissatisfied with the standard of service we have provided you then we will deal with this formally as a complaint. In line with the Housing Ombudsman's complaints handling code we define a complaint as 'An expression of dissatisfaction, however made, about the standard of service, actions, or lack of action by the council, its staff, or those acting on its behalf, affecting an individual resident or group of residents'.
You don't have to use the word 'complaint' for your feedback to be treated as such. We'll also ensure that any feedback submitted via a third party, or a representative is handled in line with our complaints policy.
It is important that we learn from your feedback as it helps us to identify what we are doing well and where we need to improve.
How can I make a complaint or compliment?
What happens next?
If you pay us a compliment, we will let the individual or team know about it, as well as their manager. We may also share your compliment with the rest of the service as an example of great customer service.
If you are dissatisfied with the standard of service you have received, then we will treat this as a formal complaint and aim to respond fully within 10 working days. We will acknowledge your complaint in writing by letter or email. This is stage 1of our complaint process.
If there's a reason why we consider your complaint unsuitable for our complaints process, we will write to you detailing our reasons for refusing your complaint, and inform you of your right to dispute our decision with the Housing Ombudsman.
If you remain unhappy with the outcome of the investigation, or if we can't resolve all or part of your complaint to your satisfaction, you can ask for your complaint to be escalated to a stage 2. The Chief Executive will appoint a senior manager to complete a review of your complaint on their behalf, and provide a response to you. Please request this within 10 working days of receiving your stage 1 response. We will aim to provide a final written response within a further 20 working days.
The Officer who investigates your complaint will:
- Act independently and have an open mind
- Take measures to address any actual or perceived conflict of interest
- Consider all information and evidence carefully
- Keep the complaint confidential as far as possible, with information only disclosed if necessary to properly investigate the matter.
For more information on our complaints process, please refer to our complaints policy.
Housing Ombudsman service
If you come to the end of our complaints process and feel that your complaint has still not been resolved, or you are unhappy with the way it has been investigated, you can contact the Housing Ombudsman service. They can look at your complaint to find the best outcome for your individual circumstances.
You can contact the Housing Ombudsman at any point during our complaints process for independent advice and support. We will include information about the Housing Ombudsman, and how to get in touch with them, with any formal written responses during our complaints process.
Housing Ombudsman's Complaint Handling Code
In April 2022, the Housing Ombudsman updated its existing Complaint Handling Code.
The code sets out good practice that ensures that social landlords respond to complaints effectively and fairly.
How are we doing?
For the financial year 2022/23, we received 109 formal complaints and 65 compliments.
59% of the formal complaints were responded to within the target timescale.
For more information see our complaints policy.
The council will take every reasonable and practical step to ensure that no person using council premises or services will receive less favourable treatment or will be disadvantaged by requirements or conditions that cannot be shown to be justifiable.
When you contact us to make a complaint, we will ask how you would prefer for us to keep you updated with the progress of your complaint. We will usually respond to your complaint in writing, however, we appreciate that this may not always be the most suitable method of contact for every individual, so please let us know if you'd prefer another method.