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Agenda item

Annual Complaints Report 2018/19


The Information and Corporate Policy Officer introduced his report providing an overview of how the Council had performed in responding to service complaints during the financial year 2018/19.  The report also included details of the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman Annual Review Letter 2019.  It was noted that:


·  The Council had received 568 stage 1 complaints in 2018/19 compared to 728 in the previous year, a decrease of 22%.  Of the 568 stage 1 complaints, 181 (31.9%) were upheld and 109 were escalated to the second stage of the Council’s complaints process.  Of the 109 stage 2 complaints, 18 (16.5%) were upheld.


·  The services with the highest volume of stage 1 complaints were Waste, Parking, Council Tax and Development Management.  Parking Services and Waste Services responded to all complaints received within 10 working days.  Only 2 complaints (3.8%) about Development Management were not responded to within the target of 10 working days of receipt.  The services with the highest stage 2 escalation rates were Development Management, Parking, Waste and Planning Enforcement.  When a complaint was escalated to stage 2, an investigation was conducted by the Head of Policy, Communications and Governance, and a response was provided within 20 working days.  Against this target, 99 (90.8%) stage 2 complaints were responded to in time.


·  The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman had reviewed 38 complaints and made decisions on 37 complaints in 2018/19.  There were 9 detailed investigations and 3 complaints were upheld.


During the discussion, concerns were expressed about the efficiency of the Council’s telephone system and also about the need to improve user experience of the Council’s website.  It was suggested that it was sometimes difficult to address complaints to the correct department. 


The Director of Finance and Business Improvement replied that the aim was to ensure that customers have a positive experience when contacting the Council.  The Council did monitor the number of telephone calls that are dropped and the time taken to answer them, and he had regular discussions with the Customer Services Manager about the statistics.  There were other channels for reaching the Council such as email, direct lines and voicemail.  There was also dialogue with Councillors about the website.  It was under continual development and maintained in-house so it could be adapted in response to any issues.


In response to questions, the Officers explained that:


·  In 2018/19 a total of £723 in monetary compensation was offered to complainants.  This included a payment of £250 in respect of a complaint received and upheld by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.  The Council also offered other remedies such as extending subscriptions or waiving fees.  Advice and guidance was being offered to Service Managers to ensure that compensation payments are recorded correctly.


·  In terms of benchmarking performance against that of other Boroughs, further data was awaited to enable a full comparison to be made.


·  The complaints policy had been amended to make the definition of a complaint clearer to ensure that the correct process is followed and the desired outcome is not delayed.


·  Judicial reviews were not treated as part of the complaints process, the final stage of which was referral to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.


Members expressed satisfaction with the Council’s performance in responding to complaints and were pleased to note the number of compliments that had been received.


RESOLVED:  That the Council’s performance on complaint management in 2018/19 and the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman’s Annual Review Letter 2019 be noted.


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