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Link Officer Liaison Seminar January/ February 2013 Nigel Ellis Paul Conroy David Pollard.

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Presentation on theme: "Link Officer Liaison Seminar January/ February 2013 Nigel Ellis Paul Conroy David Pollard."— Presentation transcript:

1 Link Officer Liaison Seminar January/ February 2013 Nigel Ellis Paul Conroy David Pollard

2 Seminar content The challenges for LGO Our new approach Intake Assessment Investigation Publishing Statements of Reasons Changes to the housing jurisdiction Welfare reform

3 The challenges for LGO

4 Challenges for LGO: doing more with less The context: Funding cut by 37% by 2014/15 Increasingly challenging public sector environment likely to lead to increased complaint volumes Our response: New business model – whole organisation restructure New assessment unit for early resolution of complaints Simplified, streamlined processes focused on remedying the most serious injustice Head office in Coventry New, integrated approach to “public value”

5 Challenges for LGO: accountability to Parliament CLG Select Committee report on LGO (July 2012) Minimise delays in investigating complaints Finalise implementation of organisational changes More engagement with staff Develop a methodology for measuring customer satisfaction

6 Challenges for LGO: accountability to Parliament Related actions New streamlined processes with enhanced performance monitoring Organisational changes rolled out (April 2013) Staff survey completed and key messages published Benchmarking carried out against other Ombudsmen’s approach to customer satisfaction research

7 Our new approach: Intake, Assessment & Investigation

8 Our new approach: LGO’s Transformation Plan Significant budget reduction Independent strategic business review Consultation on proposed changes Intake and assessment Review criteria / threshold for investigation No compromise in quality Focused approach to ‘public value’

9 Our new approach: Flow Chart Intake - 2 Teams of Advisors based in Coventry Approx 100,000 contacts (calls, emails and letters) Advice given / clarify reason for contacting LGO / viable cases identified Assessment - 5 Teams (2 x London, 1 x Coventry, 2 x York) 17.5k Viable cases 20 Working day time target to assess each case No geographical allocations Approximately 7.6k to be forwarded for Investigation Investigation - 8 Teams Each team to be assigned specified Local Authorities and other bodies in jurisdiction Maximising public value from Investigations 17.5k 7.6k

10 Our new approach: Planning assumptions Total coming from Intake 17,500 Pass to Investigation 7,600 Premature 4,900 Closed in Assessment 5,000 Intake – 100,000 Enquiries

11 Our new approach: The benefits A service which deals with complaints swiftly and proportionately, with straightforward cases handled at the earliest possible stage Only those cases which merit more detailed work will be passed through for investigation We can divert resources between intake, assessment and investigation as needed

12 Our new approach: Intake

13 The Intake Team will handle all new public enquiries, and all re- submitted complaints, through a single web complaint form, a single phone number, and a single contact address The team will address three key questions in relation to every enquiry: Is it a matter that might be for the LGO (rather than another body)? Is it obviously premature?, and Is there enough basic information to make it viable to pass on to the assessment stage?

14 Our new approach: Intake The Intake Team will not: Give advice about our jurisdiction, beyond basic expectation management and identifying complaints that are clearly ‘not for us’ (i.e. for other bodies, such as other ombudsman schemes, utilities, consumer complaints etc) Write to complainants to tell them that their complaint has been transferred to assessment Correspond with BinJs (other than for vulnerable complainants) Check whether the person complaining has locus to complain on behalf of the person affected – this is a task for the assessment unit Request any documents from the complainant

15 Our new approach: Intake

16 Total No. of Contacts 2012

17 Our new approach: Intake Complaint categories 2012

18 Our new approach: Intake Headline KPIs: Answer 95% of calls within 1 minute Answer rate of 98.5% All new enquiries to be processed within 1 day Other measurements: Overall volumes Categories and outcomes Average Handling Times Compliance with LGO Quality Framework

19 Our new approach: Intake Enquiry Clearly Premature Viable Enquiry Non LGO Incomplete Enquiry

20 Our new approach: Intake Advisers will make an assumption about prematurity based on the information presented to them For clearly premature complaints the adviser will tell the complainant to contact the Council directly Follow up with a ‘premature decision letter’ and any relevant factsheets If unclear, advisers will attempt to contact complainant to discuss. If no contact can made but there is enough information to form a ‘viable’ complaint it will be sent to Assessment

21 Our new approach: Intake Advisers will not hold on to cases while they establish prematurity Advisers are not expected to contact the BinJ to make enquiries that is the role of the Assessment team There will be no 10 day referral process

22 Our new approach: Intake The information passed on to Assessment will contain as a minimum:  The unique complaint number  Sufficient contact details to get in touch with the complainant  A ‘reason for contacting the LGO’ showing that the complaint ‘may be for us’  A note of the body in jurisdiction where this is practical to identify (in the case of private sector care, the postcode of the person affected will suffice), and  An assigned top-level complaint category

23 Our new approach: Assessment

24 The Objective is to decide:“Should we initiate an investigation into this complaint?” A series of questions: 1.Is it premature? Council first exceptions no longer applied 2.Is it within jurisdiction (and whether discretion should be exercised in appropriate instances)? 3.Is made by someone who has the locus to make the complaint? 4.Is it significant enough to merit an investigation? (judged against the criteria contained in the LGOs’ ‘Assessment Code’) 5.Is it likely to lead to worthwhile outcome? 6.Can it be resolved more efficiently by a quick intervention at the assessment stage? and 7.Does it contain sufficient information to proceed? Target Time – a maximum of 20 working days from receipt in Intake

25 Our new approach: Assessment The Assessment Code Something we can share with all our stakeholders. These are the criteria against which we assess each and every complaint that comes to us A two stage test: 1.The Jurisdictional Stage (can we investigate) 2.The Discretionary Stage (should we investigate) - Injustice - Fault - Remedy- Public Interest

26 Our new approach: Investigation

27 All cases forwarded from Assessment will contain a clear audit trail of the communication with the Council and complainant to date and an explanation why the case was deemed fit for investigation, as well as a record of any discretionary decisions made at that stage The expectation is that the case will be Investigated Decisions about jurisdiction kept under review but should only be changed where new evidence emerges Planning Assumption – 95 substantive decisions per Investigator per annum Time targets for responses and our investigations – remain the same at present – 28 days. 13 / 26 & 52 weeks

28 Our new approach: Investigation Generic teams, with range of skills and experience. Specialist expertise (e.g. adult social care, children and schools, planning) to call on Target of all complaints allocated to an investigator within 20 working days of receipt by Intake. Generally allocation should be much quicker Target of investigator making contact with the complainant within 20 working days. The target may be reduced if allocation was not reasonably soon after receipt by Intake

29 Our new approach: Investigation Clear messages to Council and the complainant not to provide unnecessary information Our starting point is that we should share with both parties to the complaint the information we rely on to make our decision Normal practice to provide a copy of the complaint to the Council No such thing as an informal enquiry First enquiries by letter attached to email, normally giving 20 working days to respond (but may ask urgent cases to be expedited) Follow up enquiries normally by letter attached to email, but simple requests for one or two documents may be by email without an attachment

30 Our new approach: Investigation All investigations will have a provisional decision The normal principle is that provisional decisions should be sent to all parties at the same time We intend to publish our decisions on our website from 2013/14. We are working on a standard style and on quality standards We are reviewing the way we express our decisions. Following a change in the law, we will “complete” more investigations (and “discontinue” fewer)

31 Our new approach: Investigation Maximising public value We record learning points from investigations and feed those back to the Council at the time We publish investigation reports on individual cases, and focus reports on issues, when we consider it to be in the public interest. The six key reasons for publishing are: Recurrent fault (specific subject or specific body in jurisdiction) Significant fault, injustice or remedy Non-compliance with an Ombudsman’s recommendation High volume of complaints about one subject Significant topical issue (e.g. new legislation) Systemic problems and/or wider lessons Where appropriate, we are keen to issue more reports of both types We also provide training and are considering how else we can maximise the value of our investigations

32 Our new approach: Progress so far

33 Early adoption/ piloting Two Assessment Teams commenced work in London on 29.10.12 894 Cases assessed up until 31.12.12 Quick, informal enquiries made of Councils to establish prematurity / obtain responses / planning officer’s reports etc. Refining business processes / how we communicate with service users. Adoption of the new arrangements in our York Office on 4 February New arrangements fully in place by 1 April

34 Our new approach: Progress so far Assessment outcomes

35 Our new approach: Progress so far

36 Our new approach: and you

37 Benefits for you Average response times will improve as more complaints are completed at the assessment stage with quick response times to our enquiries Not every decision made at the assessment stage will involve a provisional view, and where a provisional view is needed, it will only be sent to the complainant as these will be decisions not to investigate The more complaints can be dealt with at the assessment stage, the fewer complaints will go through to investigation and require: 1.more detailed enquiries 2.more detailed provisional views to comment on, and 3.potentially, more critical outcomes

38 Our new approach: and you What we need from you A quick turn around on enquiries made at the assessment phase by phone and email: Premature? Documents that already exist No new information Responses to suggested quick wins.

39 Publishing Statements of Reasons

40 Statements of Reasons: What do we publish now? Non compliance Significant topical issues Recurrent fault Systemic problem/ wider lessons Very significant maladministration or injustice High volume of complaints of a single subject

41 Statements of Reasons: Why publish more? Transparency Accountability

42 Statements of Reasons: When will LGO start publishing? For decisions made from April 2013

43 Statements of Reasons: What will LGO publish? All decisions Full decisions After three months Searchable database

44 Statements of Reasons: Consultation with Authorities Consultation with Chief Executives in July 2011 Most were supportive Questions raised about: Seeing drafts prior to publication Sensitive cases Advance notice

45 Statements of Reasons: How have LGO prepared? Technical work Development of new standards for decisions New structure of decision statements Staff training Standard paragraphs Stylewriter Quality monitoring

46 Statements of Reasons: Addressing concerns We will listen to concerns about publishing a decision Our independence means we do not need permission to publish

47 Changes to the housing jurisdiction

48 Changes to the housing jurisdiction: The Changes From 1 April 2013 LGO will no longer investigate complaints about a council “in its capacity as a registered provider of social housing... so far as they relate to the provision or management of social housing” [Section 181 (1) Localism Act 2011] After this date The Housing Ombudsman Service (HOS) will deal with these complaints. Government says purpose is to create “a single Ombudsman service dedicated to social housing complaints.”

49 Changes to the housing jurisdiction: The role of LGO LGO will continue to investigate complaints about: Allocations (as defined in Part 6 of the 1996 Housing Act) Homelessness Anti-social behaviour (except where Council is using it’s landlord function to enforce tenancy conditions)

50 Changes to the housing jurisdiction: The role of the Housing Ombudsman The Housing Ombudsman will investigate complaints about: Housing management Repairs Leaseholds Transfers and mutual exchanges LGO and HOS can conduct joint investigations when necessary

51 Welfare reform

52 Welfare reform: Universal credit New single payment for people who are looking for work or on a low income Launched in 2013 Replaces number of other benefits

53 Welfare reform: What is different Will be available to people who are in work and on a low income, as well as to those who are out of work Managed online Will be responsive Support with housing costs will go direct to the claimant as part of their monthly payment.

54 Welfare reform: Complaints to LGO Housing Benefit Council tax benefit

55 Your questions

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