The Housing Service promise to customers
Whatever the service, whichever way they contact us, we promise our customers to:
- Deal with enquiries in a friendly, helpful and courteous manner;
- Treat everyone equally and without discrimination;
- Provide accurate and timely information;
- Treat any information given to us or held by us sensitively and discreetly, respecting any confidentiality;
- Meet the targets set out in our service standards;
- Treat any comments and complaints about our services seriously and to handle them in a positive way.
The services we provide
The Housing section deals with the following types of service:
- Social Housing - Advice and Registration
- Assistance for the Homeless
- Energy Advice
- Private Housing
Responding to Customers
Standards for responding to enquiries via letter, email, telephone or personal visit are set out in the Council's Customer Service Charter. The housing section also has specific standards for its services, which are set out below.
Staff will be available to discuss your housing enquiries with you in person on an appointment duty system, which is 9am - 4pm Monday, Thursday and Friday. We will also see you immediately on a drop in basis at our Abingdon offices should an emergency housing situation arise. We will also offer appointments in our Wantage office on a fortnightly basis and can visit you in your home or another convenient place for you if necessary. For maps showing where the Council's offices are please see our our page How to find our offices.
We will assess your application to join the Councils' Housing Register within 15 working days of receiving a fully completed form together with the required proofs of identity and residence etc. You will be notified by letter of the outcome of this assessment.
We operate a formal procedure to enable you to request reviews of decision we make with regard to your housing, in line with statutory requirements. All forms, letters and publications will be written clearly in plain English, avoiding unnecessary jargon.
We will publish a newsletter called Applicant News every six months, which we send to all people registered on the Council's Housing Register.
The housing team will act upon customer reports as follows, ensuring the most serious or immediate requests/problems are dealt with first:
Action within 24 hours
Serious and major housing health and safety issues where there is imminent danger to the occupant(s).
Action within seven working days
All other housing/energy enquiries including non-urgent advisory matters and general enquiries.
You will be told the name of the officer who is dealing with your enquiry, the response time and information on what the service can provide. First actions are usually a telephone call or a visit.
Follow up response
You will be advised:
- what action we will take and when;
- what (if anything) you are required to do;
- the name of the officer who will be taking the action and their contact details.
If we cannot help, you will be given an explanation why.
If intermediate action has been taken, a full response will be provided within seven working days or we will let you know if we need further time to deal with the issue. We will keep you informed of the progress of your enquiry by contacting you regularly.
We will send you relevant advice leaflets (if appropriate).
Other service aims and objectives
The Housing Operations Team also does work which is not the result of a complaint or enquiry but serves to enhance and promote such issues as:
- Programmed Park Homes inspections;
- Process and monitor discretionary and mandatory grants;
- Requests for service from Housing Advice;
- Advice on energy issues
- Provide talks and presentations.
When we visit your home we will:
- Show you our council identification and authorisation;
- Make appointments (where possible and appropriate);
- Clearly explain the task we have come to do;
- Let you know what follow up action you can expect from us
- Confirm any advice or requirements in writing within 15 working days, where appropriate;
- Leave or send you a customer satisfaction card for you to make comments on our service where appropriate.
If we take enforcement action we will
- Put legal requirements and advice clearly and simply in writing;
- Ensure that our letters explain what action is required by you and why it is necessary;
- Ensure our letters distinguish between the legal requirements and recommendations of good practice;
- Provide you with an opportunity to discuss the matter with an officer before formal enforcement action is taken (other than when immediate action is required);
- Ensure that you have written information on your rights of appeal against formal enforcement action.
The Vale of White Horse enforcement policy
The Vale of White Horse has signed up to the principles of good enforcement as set by the Government Enforcement Concordant. Our enforcement policy tells you what you can expect and ensures officers act in a fair, transparent and consistent manner.
Help Us to Help You!
Customers can help the Council to deliver the best possible service by:
- Being aware of any relevant service standards (for example, turnaround times on applications);
- Keeping us informed of any relevant changes in your circumstances;
- Responding to letters and any requests for further information or documentation in the timescales requested;
- Treating our staff with respect and courtesy
Our staff are committed to providing the best possible service for customers, and we believe that in return our staff have a right to be treated courteously and with respect.
The Council will not tolerate instances of verbal, written or physical harassment or abuse of its staff. The Council will record such incidents and may report incidents to the police. We retain the right, where we consider customer actions to be unacceptable, to change, restrict or refuse access to our services.
Comments, Complaints and Suggestions
The Council recognises that communication is a two-way process and operates a procedure that encourages comments, complaints and suggestions to enable service improvement. Whichever method you use to contact us with a complaint, it will be dealt with in the same way.
- A full written reply will be sent within seven working days or, if your complaint is complicated, you will be sent a reply or progress report within 28 days.
- If you are unhappy about our reply to your complaint, you can write to the Chief Executive at the Council using the Freepost address.
- If, after following the Council's procedure you are still not satisfied with the outcome, you can refer it to the Local Government Ombudsman. We can supply you with the contact details on request.
Last reviewed: 01 - 08 - 2012