Hyde housing association sees complaints soar

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THE number of complaints received by social housing group Hyde shot up by nearly 1,500 per cent in the second half of the last financial year.

Between October, 2013, and March, 2014, the group which runs Hyde Martlet’s housing stock in Chichester, dealt with an average of 193 complaints a month, a major rise from 13 a month between April and September, 2013.

That is according to figures in the Hyde Group’s residents’ annual report for 2013-14, which admitted problems in ‘delivering the quality of service our residents should expect to receive’.

Figures in the report also showed that during 2013/14, 52 per cent of complaints were responded to within the company’s time limit, down from 78 per cent the previous year, while 35 per cent of residents were satisfied with complaints handling.

Satisfaction with call handling though was at 90 per cent, while satisfaction with the condition of its properties was 85 per cent, up from 76 per cent during 2012/13.

The Observer has received a number of complaints from Hyde residents in the Chichester area over the past few months. We asked for figures relating to the Chichester district, but were told they were not available.

Hyde has admitted facing ‘challenges’ as a result of changes to the group’s repairs and maintenance service, and says it is working closely with residents to make improvements.

The Hyde Group (South) new regional director Chyrel Brown will meet with Chichester district councillors for a behind-close-doors meeting ahead of next full council on December 16.

Cllr Alan Chaplin, a former non-executive director of Hyde Martlet, is currently compiling questions he will put to Hyde prior to the meeting.

He said: “We’re very pleased that Chyrel Brown has taken up an agreement by the former regional director to meet with councillors to discuss a number of things that have clearly gone wrong.”

Mr Chaplin said problems started in 2008 when Martlet Homes merged with the Hyde Group, which owns and manages 49,000 homes across London and the south east.

“Since the merger some years ago I have seen evidence that the quality of some services has significantly dropped,” he said.

“A new IT system caused utter chaos and though I understand that has been resolved, it does not obscure the fact that, for a long period things were not good enough.

“Centralising all complaints to London seems to have caused a lack of accountability and I want to address that on December 16.”

Mr Chaplin praised the group for taking steps to make improvements and said he had ‘great respect’ for the community work done by Hyde Plus.

In a statement Hyde said it wanted to do all it could to maintain a good working partnership with Chichester District Council.

Ms Brown said: “Our aim is always to give the very best service, but we are aware that residents have experienced problems since the changes; “I’m sorry and ask them to bear with us as we continue to work hard to deliver the improvements.

“A recent resident satisfaction survey shows that 76 per cent of our residents are happy with services, but even one unhappy customer is unacceptable and I’d like to reassure our residents that we will do all we can to give them an improved and consistently high level of service.

“They should expect this and we are committed to delivering this.”

And responding to Ms King’s on-going complaint (above), Hyde said it would ‘make sure the issues are resolved as soon as possible’.