Annual Complaints and Compliments Report
To consider the report.
Nikki Craig explained that the local authority had a statutory obligation to report on complaints and compliments for adult and children’s services, but RBWM chose to report on all areas too. Should any resident be dissatisfied with the response that they had received, they could complain to the local government and social care ombudsman. There had been 2,268 contacts made in 2020/21, with 415 contacts being progressed as complaints. Of these, 350 were for non-adults and children services. The report covered the reasons for complaints being received, the timeliness of complaints being dealt with, whether a complaint was upheld and the lessons that had been learned. The data for complaints was broken down into three areas, one for adults, one for children’s and one for all other services. Learning from revenue and benefits complaints mostly related to the pandemic and changes or cancellations made to services such as registrars and ceremonies.
There had been an increase in compliments, 766 in total for 2020/21 which had increased from 355 in 2019/20. The revenue and benefits team had received 24 compliments, while HR had received 21.
Councillor Werner asked if, in the experience of officers dealing with the complaints, the number had gone up due to the pandemic. He asked how complaints were dealt with in regard to waste collection, were these registered as RBWM complaints or were they sent straight through to Serco.
Nikki Craig said that over 2000 contacts had been made and were from ‘report it’ issues, parking tickets and other methods. If there had been a number of missed bin collections from the same household, this would be progressed as a complaint. There was a similar number of complaints to last year, the local government ombudsman had paused investigating complaints at the beginning of the pandemic.
Councillor Werner asked for confirmation on if RBWM had stopped accepting complaints at the start of the pandemic.
Nikki Craig confirmed it was just the ombudsman, where complaints could be progressed if residents were not happy with the response received from RBWM. Their work had restarted now.
Councillor Jones said that timescales were a concern and asked what was being done.
Nikki Craig said that the timescales had improved in some areas. Officers were now better at liaising with the person who had made the complaint and an extension to the deadline could be requested if it was required.
Vanessa Faulkner, Service Lead – HR People Services, explained that officers had attended service meetings when there was a danger of not hitting the timescales. Drop ins had also been organised where discussions could take place on how teams could progress complaints through the system.
Councillor Jones commented on compliments and the issue that staff who were working in person received more compliments than those who were working from home. She asked how staff who were working remotely still received compliments. On waste management, Councillor Jones was surprised to see the service in the top three for compliments.
Nikki Craig said that there had been an increase in compliments, these were fed back into the system and came back to teams. Feedback mechanisms could be worked on to improve this further. On waste management, there had been a significant number of both complaints and compliments.
ACTION – Nikki Craig to feedback to the Panel on a breakdown of the waste management complaints and compliments.
Councillor Sharpe asked if there was anything that the council should be changing or adapting in response to complaints that had been received.
Nikki Craig said that each service had highlighted the issues and what needed to be changed to avoid future complaints.
Councillor Werner asked if for a compliment to be registered there needed to be physical evidence.
Nikki Craig explained that the vast majority of compliments were received in the form of emails, or where a resident had completed a form.
Councillor Werner gave the example of a verbal conversation where a complaint and compliment were part of the conversation. He asked if it could be recorded as both a complaint and a compliment.
Nikki Craig confirmed that it could be.
Councillor Jones commented on one fifth of complaints being logged due to a lack of action. She asked if it was about managing expectations better with residents.
Nikki Craig said that communication and overpromising could be the issues. The complaints team were in contact with relevant departments to make sure that complaints were being progressed.
Adele Taylor said that complaints had to be part of the learning process. It was also important to learn from compliments which had been received.
Councillor Jones said that it was important to consider the perception of complaints and compliments. She asked how IT fitted in, for example how contacts were recorded and how easily accessible they were to find for residents.
Nikki Craig said that Jadu forms had been originally used but this had recently been replaced with a new system called Drupal. Improvements were being made to make things easier.
RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Panel noted the report and:
i) That the report was published on the Council’s website.
ii) That the annual report continued to be produced and presented at Overview and Scrutiny Panels.