Action plan as Doncaster council housing complaints miss targets

Silverwood House, one of St Leger Homes biggest housing blocks
Silverwood House, one of St Leger Homes biggest housing blocks

Doncaster's housing bosses are in talks with unions to try to improve how their staff deal with the public.

Paul Tanney, chief executive of St Leger Homes, which managers council housing for Doncaster Council, told the borough's cabinet that a new 'behaviour standard' was currently being worked through with unions and was due to launched soon.

It comes as a report named complaints as one of four areas of performance where the arms length management company was needing to improve.

The reported stated service failure and dissatisfaction was currently rated at 32 per cent against a target of 19 per cent. It means that in April, May and June, of a total of 245 complaints, 32 per cent were classed as service failure, and 68 per cent were down to customer dissatisfaction

Other targets missed included the percentage of spending being made with local companies (49 per cent against a target of 66 per cent), rent lost due to houses being empty (1.16 per cent compared to a 0.97 target) and the number of people in temporary accommodation (22, compared with a target of 10).

Coun Joe Blackham, cabinet member for trading services, said at face value the figure for complaints looked "pathetic" and called for a change to way the figures were presented.

The complaints due to failure figure compared with 42 per cent in March.

The report stated: "While complaints are received in a variety of service areas, the main areas are repairs and maintenance, and tenancy and estate management. These areas of the business arguably have the highest levels of visibility to tenants and the highest volume of jobs .

"The total number of jobs raised in Q1 was 16,106, meaning complaints are 1.5 per cent of the total number of jobs. The nature of complaints varies although there are themes around vehicle parking and staff actions such as not returning calls or missed appointments."

Mr Tanney said there had been 76 service failures for the full quarter.

He said: "In context, it is a small percentage but it is still not good enough, and we have put in place work around behaviour.

"The cause is sometimes things like staff parking over someone's drive. With a bit of consideration you don't get a complaint. It can also be staff not turning up or turning up late, and then not phoning up to say they're going to be late..

"We have a new behaviour standard that we're working through with unions."

St Leger Homes were rated as performing well for rent arrears (2.41 per cent against a 2.5 per cent target), number of households helped to live independently (45, target 40), days lost through sickness (1.51, target 7.9), 'right first time' (98.6, target 98), gas servicing and sold fuel (100 per cent, target 100), and invoices paid within 30 days (97.59 per cent, target 96).

The number of promises kept on schedule repairs was judged 'near to target' with 97 per cent compared to a target of 100 per cent.