Not everybody uses the internet but for those who do appreciate it being simple and effective. Hammersmith and Fulham Council should make it as easy as possible to make reports and requests online. This can both improve the service and save the Council money.
One area we could be doing better is with the arrangements for council tenants to report repairs.
In May I wrote to the Housing Director to say:
“I was interested in this report in a supplement The Times this morning about Southampton Council saving money by encouraging residents to log more requests online. It gave an example of phone calls regarding missed bin collections being down from 600 a month to 200 a month.
Please advise how we are performing in terms of the ratio of housing queries that are being made online – both compared to previous years and other authorities.
For example I had a look at Southampton’s website for reporting a repair and compared it to ours.
Southampton’s looks much better. Our one mixes up housing repairs in a very long list. Also we don’t have the clarity they do as to what constitutes an “urgent” repair.
Please may I have your comments.
The Council’s Principal Manager – Operational and Engineering Regeneration, Planning & Housing Services has replied:
“Dear Councillor Phibbs,
We apologise for the delay in responding to your enquiry received 25 May regarding housing queries logged online.
Mitie measure the number of incoming items to the repairs inbox (the online form generates an email to this inbox) but a lot of these messages aren’t to raise new repairs (they don’t have a way of tracking specifically how many new repair requests we get through this way). Mitie can see that the volume of calls hasn’t varied much, but mailbox traffic has decreased since April 2015. More calls were received to raise a new repair than for other reasons last year, which is what we like to see, but all this tends to suggest that our residents haven’t made a shift to online.
In regards to the website content, tenants would usually access the webpage through the home page, click all services then housing and a number of options are available such as requesting a repair, getting a rent statement or reporting antisocial behaviour. Information concerning the emergency contact number can also be found under the request a repair option.
In regards to layout and emergency related information on the website, we have referred this to our corporate communication team to see if they are able to make the suggested changes. “
We could easily do better.