Discriminatory Complaints System Which Limits Complaints Numbers (Lewisham Council)

Roedd y cais yn llwyddiannus.

Dear Lewisham Borough Council,

I am following up on feedback provided previously about Lewisham Council’s complaints system. Some of Lewisham Council’s contractors continue to inform residents that if they wish to escalate their complaint to the Council at Stage 2 then they must write to the relevant team at the Council.

This system may deter residents from escalating complaints about Council contractors to the Council and this may in/advertently be discriminatory. Residents may be discouraged from escalating complaints because of the extra time and costs involved (e.g. buy paper, write a letter, buy an envelope, buy a stamp and post a letter) and these extra costs may deter some socio-economic groups more than others.

Additionally, this manual process may not be as environmentally friendly as other (electronic) options, please also see FOI request made on 31st Oct 2020 “Green Objectives, Green Correspondence and Value for Money (Lewisham Council)” (Ref 7667965).

1) Has Lewisham Council informed its contractors that all complaints escalated to Stage 2 need to be posted or are there other options (e.g. online or email addresses) which contractors should provide residents?
2) Has Lewisham Council assessed if and how its manual complaints escalation procedures may impact differently on different socio-economic groups?
3) Will Lewisham Council review and modernise its complaints escalation procedures to ensure that all of its contractors provide electronic options to escalate complaints to the Council?
4) If a review is to take place, when will this start, finish and potential changes made?

Linked to question 2, I see that a FOI request made on 10 Aug 2020 “Data Disaggregation Equality and Discrimination – Vulnerable Groups” (Ref 6892205) remains outstanding. I hope that the Council may ensure that its contractors start to collect and use data to ensure that services are provided in an equitable manner.

Yours faithfully,

P.Waller

Foi, Customer, Lewisham Borough Council

Dear Paul,

Re: Freedom of Information Act 2000
Environmental Information Regulations 2004
Reference No: 7726567

Thank you for your recent request.

Your request is being considered and you will receive a response within the statutory timescale of 20 working days, subject to the application of any exemptions. Where consideration is being given to exemptions the 20 working day timescale may be extended to a period considered reasonable depending on the nature and circumstances of your request. In such cases you will be notified and, where possible, a revised time-scale will be indicated. In all cases we shall attempt to deal with your request at the earliest opportunity.

There may be a fee payable for the retrieval, collation and provision of the information requested where the request exceeds the statutory limit or where disbursements exceed £10. In such cases you will be informed in writing and your request will be suspended until we receive payment from you or your request is modified and/or reduced.

Your request may require either full or partial transfer to another public authority. You will be informed if your request is transferred.

If we are unable to provide you with the information requested we will notify you of this together with the reason(s) why and details of how you may appeal (if appropriate).

Please note that the directorate team may contact you for further information where we believe that the request is not significantly clear for us to respond fully.


Kind regards
Corporate Complaints, Casework and Information Governance Team

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Foi, Customer, Lewisham Borough Council

Dear P.Waller

Re: Freedom of Information Act 2000
Environmental Information Regulations 2004
Reference No: 7726567

Thank you for your request for information held by London Borough of Lewisham. I have included below a copy of your request, followed by the Council’s response.

1) Has Lewisham Council informed its contractors that all complaints escalated to Stage 2 need to be posted or are there other options (e.g. online or email addresses) which contractors should provide residents?

We can confirm that London Borough of Lewisham has reminded its housing partners to include the email address of the Corporate Complaints team in the escalation paragraph of first stage complaints.

2) Has Lewisham Council assessed if and how its manual complaints escalation procedures may impact differently on different socio-economic groups?

We can confirm that there are various channels available for customers to contact us or escalate complaints and we do review these channels and customer equality data where provided to ensure that the corporate complaints service is accessible to all.

3) Will Lewisham Council review and modernise its complaints escalation procedures to ensure that all of its contractors provide electronic options to escalate complaints to the Council?

We can confirm that London Borough of Lewisham continues to review and improve our complaint handling practices on an ongoing basis.

4) If a review is to take place, when will this start, finish and potential changes made?

We confirm that this is an ongoing process

We hope you will find this information helpful.

You are free to use the information provided for your own purposes, including any non-commercial research you are doing and for the purposes of news reporting. Any other re-use, for example commercial publication, requires the permission of the copyright holder. You may apply for permission to re-use this information by submitting a request to [email address]

You have a right of appeal against this response which you can exercise by writing to: Information Governance – 1st floor Town Hall Chambers, Catford, London. SE6 4RU. Or at: [email address]

This must be requested within 40 working days of the date of this response.

If you remain dissatisfied after receiving this decision, you then also have a further right of appeal, which you can make in writing, stating your reasons to the regulating body, the Information Commissioner's Office. Contact details are outlined below:

https://ico.org.uk/global/contact-us/

Telephone: 0303 123 1113.

Address: Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.

Yours sincerely

Corporate Complaints & Casework Team
London Borough of Lewisham
Address: 1st Floor Laurence House, 1 Catford Road, London, SE6 4RU

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Foi, Customer, Lewisham Borough Council

Dear P.Waller

Further to your Freedom of Information Act request made to London Borough of Lewisham. I would like to take this opportunity to offer you our sincere apologies for the delay in providing you with a response to your request and for any inconvenience caused.

In addition to our apologies please also accept our assurances that we are continuing to progress your request, as quickly as we can.

Yours sincerely

Corporate Complaints & Casework Team
London Borough of Lewisham
Address: 1st Floor Laurence House, 1 Catford Road, London, SE6 4RU

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Gadawodd Paul W anodiad ()

Lewisham Borough Council have been sent many FOI requests (see below) about the Regenter RB3 (Pinnacle PSG Brockley and Rydon) PFI housing contract’s complaints system and other issues of concern.

COMPLAINTS
• Defining Complaints - Regenter PFI (Pinnacle and Rydon) - a Freedom of Information request to Lewisham Borough Council - WhatDoTheyKnow
• Registering Housing Complaints Regenter / Pinnacle - a Freedom of Information request to Lewisham Borough Council - WhatDoTheyKnow
• Complaint Collection Methods Regenter PFI (Pinnacle and Rydon) - a Freedom of Information request to Lewisham Borough Council - WhatDoTheyKnow
• Complaints against Regenter PFI (Pinnacle and Rydon) - Lewisham - a Freedom of Information request to Lewisham Borough Council - WhatDoTheyKnow
• Complaints - a Freedom of Information request to Lewisham Borough Council - WhatDoTheyKnow
• Discriminatory Complaints System Which Limits Complaints Numbers (Lewisham Council) - a Freedom of Information request to Lewisham Borough Council - WhatDoTheyKnow
• TORTS Requests for Council Blocks - a Freedom of Information request to Lewisham Borough Council - WhatDoTheyKnow
• Annual Housing Performance Satisfaction Report (Regenter / Pinnacle) - a Freedom of Information request to Lewisham Borough Council - WhatDoTheyKnow

OTHER
• Council property management organisations (budgets and FOIs) - a Freedom of Information request to Lewisham Borough Council - WhatDoTheyKnow
• Pinnacle PSG Limited - Management of Lewisham Borough Housing - a Freedom of Information request to Lewisham Borough Council - WhatDoTheyKnow
• Assets Hired and Owned – Regenter PFI (Pinnacle & Rydon) - a Freedom of Information request to Lewisham Borough Council - WhatDoTheyKnow
• Data Disaggregation Equality and Discrimination - Vulnerable Groups - a Freedom of Information request to Lewisham Borough Council - WhatDoTheyKnow
• Green Objectives, Green Correspondence and Value for Money (Lewisham Council) - a Freedom of Information request to Lewisham Borough Council - WhatDoTheyKnow
• Damp, Mould and Leaks - Unresolved Pinnacle and Rydon Complaints - a Freedom of Information request to Lewisham Borough Council - WhatDoTheyKnow
• Fraud Cases - Lewisham Council Housing Contractors - a Freedom of Information request to Lewisham Borough Council - WhatDoTheyKnow
• Criminal activity and anti-social behaviour in the communal areas of Council owned blocks - a Freedom of Information request to Lewisham Borough Council - WhatDoTheyKnow
• Tenant Door Replacement Contract (Fire Door Standards, Design and Delivery) - a Freedom of Information request to Lewisham Borough Council - WhatDoTheyKnow
• Council Residential Fire Safety - a Freedom of Information request to Lewisham Borough Council - WhatDoTheyKnow
• Insurance Claims for Council Owned Blocks by Pinnacle Group Brockley - a Freedom of Information request to Lewisham Borough Council - WhatDoTheyKnow

The number of requests suggests that this system is not as responsive as residents may like and some responses appear to be inaccurate which questions Lewisham Council’s willingness and capacity to investigate complaints, scrutinise data provided by Pinnacle PSG and hold contractors to account. Information publicly published by Lewisham Council about the number of complaints received (e.g. zero complaints by telephone, zero complaints to Rydon, timeliness of complaint management etc) and incidents reported (e.g. fraud, criminal activities, anti-social behaviour) have been inaccurate. Even after Pinnacle and the Council were informed and provided evidence that the information provided was factually incorrect, no action has been taken to rectify this.

HOW TO COMPLAIN
In February 2020 residents were provided with the following guidance about how best to make and escalate complaints with Lewisham Borough Council and Regenter RB3 (Pinnacle PSG and Rydon). The below may be useful to others.

If you have a complaint, complement or just want to provide feedback to one of the organisations that manage your Council owned block you have many options.
• If you have a complaint it is recommended that you put this in writing and state it is a complaint. If the complaint is initially by telephone follow-up in writing (email/online) to confirm what was said and actions agreed. Your complaint will be taken more seriously if you provide evidence (e.g. photos, time/date of events and visits, time of telephone call and what was discussed).
• If you do not believe your complaint has been managed in a timely, honest, professional and effective manner you should escalate it. It does not matter if you are a leaseholder, renting or a council resident, you have rights and the Council’s contractors must meet certain standards.
• If your complaint affects you and others in your building or community, consider joint complaints and petitioning with your neighbours. This will add weight to your complaint and by coordinating with others you may obtain additional evidence. Some blocks set-up their own closed Facebook or WhatsApp groups and others follow open Facebook groups to complain about suppliers (for example - Stop Regenter Brockley PFI – Facebook Group).

• Pinnacle (& Rydon) - brockley.customerservice@pinnaclegroup.co.uk;
• Rydon - brockleycso@rydon.co.uk;
CorporateComplaints@lewisham.gov.uk; - To escalate complaints against Pinnacle / Rydon
https://lewisham.gov.uk/mayorandcouncil/... - ONLINE - Feedback and Complaints (complaints may be anonymous)
• Lewisham Council Fraud Office - reportfraud@lewisham.gov.uk;
• Fix My Street – Public reporting website (complaint is sent to the relevant in the Council to deal with) https://www.fixmystreet.com/
• Lewisham Mayor - damien.egan@lewisham.gov.uk;
• Local Councillors - Enter your post-code here to find your local councillors - https://www.writetothem.com/
• Member of Parliament (MP) – Find your MP - https://members.parliament.uk/FindYourMP