Agenda item

Annual Complaints and Compliments report 2018-19

To consider the report.


Nikki Craig, Head of HR and Corporate Projects, updated the Panel on the Annual Complaints and Compliments Report.


Nikki Craig reported that the annual report covered the period April 2018 to March 2019.


Councils were required under statute to produce a report for adults and children’s complaints, but not on complaints relating to corporative activities; however the Royal Borough’s annual report covers all services. 


The council’s complaints process was made up of various stages depending on the type of complaint.  A complainant was able to refer their case to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman at any time, for them to consider their compliant, however the LGSCO would not normally review a complaint if it had not exhausted the council’s complaints process.


In 2018/19, overall out of over 1600 contacts made to the council’s compliments and complaints team, 437 were progressed as complaints.  Of these 255 were for services covered by this O&S with 161 for commissioning – communities broken down in Table 2 on P12 of your packs. Fifty three of these were for housing services, 39 were for planning and 2 were for property services.  These combined made up 58% of the total complaints progressed.


Themes of complaints were self-selecting by the complainant with the main reasons for all complaints received in 2018/19 being ‘lack of action’ (we did not do what we said we would do) and ‘requiring help, intervention or guidance’.  These scored similarly to ‘attitude or behaviour of staff’ and ‘failed to follow timescales’. 


Timeliness in responding to complaints had improved for the council from 51% in 2017/18 to 64% in 2018/19.


In relation to the outcomes, the council upheld or partially upheld 67% of all complaints; teams in commissioning-communities upheld similar to the council average at 66%, housing upheld 70%, planning upheld less at 36% and property services upheld none. 0%.  Learnings were taken from complaints upheld and partially upheld with some examples detailed in the annual report (p35) Table 15.


As stated previously, if a complainant remained dissatisfied, they could complain to the LGSCO.  Of the 46 decisions made by the LGSCO in 2018/19, 1 was for services within commissioning-communities teams, which was upheld; 3 were for housing, all of which were premature and the complainant referred back to the local authority; 8 were for planning with 1 being premature, 2 being closed after initial enquiries, 3 not upheld and 2 upheld.  There were none that related to property services. 


Finally, the council had seen an increase in compliments from 456 in 2017/18 to 555 in 2018/19.  Of the 555, 105 were received by teams in Commissioning-Communities (Break down in Table 16 P36 of your packs), 10 were received by housing, 19 were received by planning and 1 was received by property services.


Councillor Da Costa asked the Officer what constituted a complaint and were operators trained to be all interpreting a complaint. Nikki Craig informed the Panel that if a complaint was of a service issue and it was a one off, it would be sent to the service to resolve. However, if it was an issue that had been repeatedly reported, it was treated as a complaint. The decision was made by one of the three team members. All team members had been trained to the same level and logged all complaints on to a system so that the history was recorded. The system was audited regularly.


The Panel discussed the following points;


·         The number of complaints were reducing but the severity could have been more serious.

·         Some of the complaints related to children’s services were very complex. This was because they were multifaceted and complicated to deal with.

·         Complaints related to highways showed a performance issue. The learning points were shared and learnt from. The annual report was sent to Heads of Service to monitor.

·         The lead members received detailed reports and all KPIs were online to monitor.


Highways complaints were discussed in great detail. They were decreasing. The time to respond back to the residents was decreasing but this was taking time. Some complaints were very complicated. The main area of focus for highways was the speed of response and keeping the customer informed of progress. A timely response was more important than a detailed report. The team needed to respond faster to the resident. Since this had been flagged up, different practices had been put into place. A weekly report was produced flagging up nearing deadlines and passed deadlines. These were all followed up with the service or partner. The process was being improved. The Chairman asked why Highways had so many complaints. Ben Smith informed the Panel that the team were now trying to be more customer focussed and working better to keep the customer updated.


RESOLVED Unanimously: that the Panel noted the report and agreed that the report was published on the Council’s website and that the annual report continued to be produced and presented at Overview and Scrutiny panels.

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