4th February 2019
Frequency of review
Every three years
Date of next review
4th February 2022
4th February 2019
Key related documents
• • • • •
Version control Version number Equality Impact Assessment
Safeguarding policy and procedure; Housing Management Services Contract; Staff Handbook; Complaints Policy and Procedure; and Code of Conduct for Trustees.
Author of Policy
Document change history Version Date Changed sections
Background to Leazes Homes
Leazes Homes was founded in 2009 by Newcastle City Council and Your Homes Newcastle to improve the supply of affordable housing for people in need, primarily, but not exclusively, in Newcastle upon Tyne. The organisation is a company limited by guarantee, a registered charity and a registered provider of housing.
At March 2018, Leazes Homes owned 718 units of affordable housing consisting of. • 378 units of general needs housing; • 288 units of supported housing; and • 52 units of older person’s housing.
Leazes Homes has a Board of eight trustees consisting of: • Six Ordinary Trustees (Independent Trustees); • One Tenant Trustee; and • One Council Trustee nominated by Newcastle City Council.
The organisation employs three members of staff directly. All services are contracted out. This includes the provision of housing management services, the current service provider being Your Homes Newcastle, and the provision of repairs and maintenance services, the current service provider being Newcastle City Council.
2.0 Policy Statement 2.1
We are committed to the principles of equality, probity, integrity and propriety, and want to make sure that these principles are embedded in our organisation. We believe that effective communication will help ensure that these principles are followed and will promote better business practices. As part of this committment, Leazes Homes will not tolerate wrongdoing by staff or staff of partners providing key services on our behalf. To assist us with this we want to have a open and supportive culture and encourage tenants, partners, suppliers and stakeholders to report any serious concerns relating to any one of the areas listed in this policy in a timely manner, in the way set out in this procedure, without fear of reprisals.
Whistleblowing should only be used to report major ethical or criminal matters when all other forms of communication have failed i.e. Line Manager, Executive Director, Contract Manager.
This policy and procedure sets out how Leazes Homes will investigate and deal with allegations of wrongdoing that have been raised. It is not intended to replace the Grievance Procedure or the Complaints Procedure. The Grievance Procedure continues to be the appropriate way for an employee to
raise personal issues relating to their employment and the Complaints Procedure remains the appropriate way for customers to report poor service. 3.0 Policy Details 3.1 This policy applies to: • Employees or former employees; • Apprenctices, agency workers, trainees, any third-party contractor whose work is controlled by the company and those working under contracts; and • Trustees, tenants and customers and other people involved with Leazes Homes. 3.2 This policy provides those listed at 2.1 with an avenue to raise concerns with Leazes Homes and receive feedback on any action taken. It allows them to take the matter further if they are dissatisfied with the outcome and reassures those reporting concerns that they wil be protected from harrassment or victimisation for raising concerns. 3.3 Employees have a responsibility to report any wrongdoing at work. Contractors and their employees have an obligation through our standard terms and conditions to report concerns that they have. If employees and contractors and their employees do not report wrongdoing, then they will be in breach of their responsibilities and obligations. 3.4 Although this policy is targeted at those listed in 3.,1 any person may raise a concern of wrongdoing. Leazes Homes encourages individuals to raise any concern they have at the earliest available opportunity. 3.5 Any person should raise a concern if they genuinely belive that anyone connected with Leazes Homes has taken, is intending to take, or has failed to take action that they reasonably believe will lead to fraud, misconduct or wrongdoing. 3.6 If misconduct is discovered as a result of any investigation under this policy, Leazes Homes procedures will be used, in addition to any appropriate external measures. 3.7 Continued employment, opportunities for future promotion or awards of future contracts will not be prejudiced because an indivdual raises a qualifying disclosure. 3.8 Victimisation of an employee or discrimiation against a contractor who have raised a qualified disclosure will not be tolerated by Leazes Homes. 3.0 What is Whistleblowing 4.1 In this policy ‘Whistleblowing’ means the reporting of suspected misconduct or wrongdoing or illegal acts.
4.2 Whistleblowing is covered by the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998. As a charity, Leazes Homes is within the jurisdiction of the Act. The Act provides protection for employees who raise legitimate concerns about the following specified areas: • • • • • •
A criminal offence; The breach of a legal obligation; A miscarriage of justice; A danger to the health and safety of any individual; Damage to the environment; and Deliberate concealment of information tending to show any of the above five matters.
4.3 Examples of legitmate concerns might relate to: • • • • • • • • •
Fraud and financial irregularities; Serious maladministration arising from deliberate wrongdoing; Unethical activities which may be of a criminal nature; A safeguarding concern; Accepting and not declaring gifts/hospitality received and given; Failure to comply with a legal obligation; A miscarriage of justice; Business malpractice; Dangerous acts or omissions which create a risk to health, safety or damage to the environment; • A bullying culture; • The deliberate concealment of infromation tending to show any of the matters listed above. This list is not exhaustive 4.4 It is not necessary to have proof that such an act is being, or is likely to be committed – a reasonable belief is sufficient. 5.0 Review and monitoring 5.1 The Managing Director will be responsible for monitoring progress and undertaking periodic revisions. The policy wil be reviewed every three years, or as legislation, current thinking or best practice change or following the rising of a concern, to ensure any lessons learned are incorporated into this policy. 5.2 The Board will receive information if a whistleblowing allegation occurs. The confidentiality and anonymity of people will be preserved when reporting such information.
Whistleblowing Procedure 1.0 Overview 1.1 This Whistleblowing Procedure identifies: • •
How individual people can raise what they consider to be genuine and legitimate concerns; and How Leazes Homes will investigate concerns and take appropriate action.
1.2 The internal procedures as set out in this document should be followed. If the person is unsure whether to raise a concern, he/she should discuss the issue with their line manager or the Managing Director, or, if not appropriate, the Chair member or another member of the Board. 1.3 Any matter raised under this procedure will be investigated thoroughly, fairly, consistently, promptly and professionally, and the outcome of the investigation reported back to the person who raised the issue as appropriate. 2.0 Raising a Concern 2.1You should raise your concerns in the first instance and at the earliest available opportunity with the Managing Director or, if not appropriate, the Chair of the Board or another member of the Board or the Independent Chair of Audit Committee. 2.2 When you make a disclosure, you should provide as much detail as you can, and you may be asked to confirm the details in writing, including, where possible, supporting evidence. 2.3 There may be circumstances, i.e., suspected wrongdoing by a member of the Executive Management Team, where it would be more appropriate to raise concerns directly with the Chair of the Board or the Independent Chair of the Audit Committee. In such circumstances, the Chair of the Board or Independent Chair of the Audit Committee will decide on the appropriate action to be taken in conjunction with the Managing Director or another appropriate appointed person. If none of these actions are appropriate, under exceptional circumstances, the concern in question should be raised with ‘Public Concern at Work’ (www.pcaw.org.uk) 2.4 All concerns raised will be taken seriously whether or not the person raising the concern wishes to have their confidentiality maintained. Leazes Homes commits to taking all reasonable steps to maintaining the confidentiality of the whistleblower where this is requested (unless it is required by law to break that confidentiality). 2.5 Leazes Homes recognises that an individual may prefer to provide anonymous information. Should this be the approach taken, as much information as possible should be provided. Leazes Homes’ ability to ask follow-up questions, clarify matters or provide feedback, will however be limited if the whistleblower cannot be contacted.
3.0 Investigation 3.1 Leazes Homes will promptly investigate the allegation in accordance with any relevant policies or procedures. 3.2 The Managing Director (or where the circumstances outlined in 2.3 apply, the Chair of the Board or the Independent Chair of the Audit Committee) will conduct an initial meeting to discuss the concerns raised and seek to establish the facts. This will usually take place within 3 working days of the concern being raised. Following this, the Managing Director will either conduct the investigation themselves or appoint someone to conduct the investigation on their behalf who may be either internal to the organisation or external to the organisation. The investigation will involve the person and other individuals involved giving a written statement and / or having an investigatory interview if required. 3.3 Any investigation will be carried out in accordance with the principles set out in this policy. The person’s statement will be considered, and he/she will be asked to comment on any additional evidence obtained. 3.4 When investigating a disclosure, Leazes Homes will: • Provide support to the person raising the concern, during what can be a difficult or anxious time with access to mentoring, advice and counselling; • If raised by a Leazes Homes employee, reassure the whistleblower that their disclosure will not affect their position at work; • Reiterate that confidentiality will be maintained (if requested and if permitted by law) on the part of Leazes Homes; • Where appropriate, provide information on what action and/or feedback they can expect as well as timescales for providing updates; and • Allow the person raising the concern to be accompanied by a representative at any meeting about the disclosure, if they wish to be accompanied. 3.5 It is expected that under most circumstances, an investigation will be concluded within 12 weeks, and feedback regarding the process will be provided to the whistleblower. Should the process take, or be expected to take, longer, the whistleblower will be updated on the likely length of the investigation. Any other feedback will be limited due to issues of confidentiality 4.0 Outcome 4.1 On conclusion of any investigation, the person raising the concern will usually be informed of the outcome of the investigation and what Leazes Homes has done or proposes to do about it as soon as possible. If no action is to be taken, the reason for this will be explained. If the disclosure was
anonymous, then there will be a limited ability to notify them of any outcomes. 4.2 If disciplinary action is required, the investigator will report the matter to the Managing Director to start the Disciplinary Procedure. 4.3 Leazes Homes will take appropriate action against any person (which could result in disciplinary action up to and including dismissal): • •
Found to be victimising, treating detrimentally, bullying or harassing another person for using this procedure, or deterring any person from reporting genuine concerns under it; Making the disclosure/allegation maliciously or, where there were no reasonable grounds for believing that the information supplied was accurate.
5.0 Reporting 5.1 The Managing Director or an appropriate individual will present a report, as a confidential item, to the next meeting of the Board following any reports of whistleblowing. 5.2 The report should enable the Board to assess whether appropriate action has been taken and whether internal controls are satisfactory. 5.3 The Managing Director’s report will provide the Board or Committee with information on: • • • • •
The specific circumstances of the case; Any loss sustained by Leazes Homes; Action taken; The adequacy of internal controls, systems and procedures; and Recommendations on further action to be taken, as appropriate, including changes in systems and procedures and any reporting of the matter to any appropriate government department or regulatory agency
5.4 Leazes Homes will, if appropriate, inform the police, the Regulator of Social Housing and the external auditors.