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Housing groups’ concern over complaints procedure in Localism Bill

Three leading housing organisations have signed a joint letter urging changes to the Localism Bill because of concerns that it stops social housing tenants from complaining directly to their housing ombudsman.

The National Housing Federation, Shelter and the Tenant Participation Advisory Service (TPAS) say the new plans, which force tenants to take their complaint through a third party – a local councillor, MP or tenant panel – is “disempowering for tenants, costly to the public and unnecessarily bureaucratic”.

The Bill is being debated in the House of Lords.

The housing groups’ letter has been published in today’s Independent newspaper.

It says: “Third parties should only be involved at the discretion of the complainant, not at the insistence of the government. In a recent ICM poll, 82% preferred to deal directly with the ombudsman or have the choice to involve a third party.”

David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation said: “When the Government has said it is committed to reducing red tape in all other areas – why are social housing tenants any different? Housing associations want to provide the best possible service to their tenants, including an effective complaints regime. Adding red tape and disempowering tenants could mean fewer, less successful complaints.”

Michelle Reid, chief executive of TPAS, added: “We worry that this procedure puts an additional hurdle between tenants and the proper resolution of their complaints. If tenants want help, they should have the right - even be encouraged - to ask for it. But third party involvement should not be forced on them at the expense of their privacy and empowerment.”

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