William Eichler 31 July 2019

Children’s services top list of complaints against councils

Official complaints about children’s services and adult social care have topped an annual review of local government complaints for 2018-19.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has published its annual review of local government complaints and an interactive map to make each council’s information easily available.

The report shows the Ombudsman registered 16,899 complaints and enquiries over the period, more than a third of which were about children and education services, and adult social care.

It carried out 4,232 detailed investigations, compared with 4,020 the previous year, and 58% of these were upheld compared with 57% the year before.

The Ombudsman made 3,525 recommendations about how councils should respond to complaints. Local authorities accepted these in 99.4% of cases.

‘All too often conversations about complaints focus on the raw numbers,’ said Ombudsman Michael King.

‘We believe there is a much more productive discussion to be had about the outcomes of those complaints, the real-world improvements made and the lessons that can be shared.

‘For the first time, we’re publishing all the ‘service improvements’ we’ve recommended; and the rate at which councils have taken them on board. And to help share these lessons more widely and encourage scrutiny, we’ve launched an online map, putting each council’s data just one click away.

‘The new map is a mine of searchable information that can be used by council officers to learn from complaints, councillors to scrutinise complaints and decisions about their authorities, and residents to hold their local authorities to account.’

Responding to the report, Cllr Peter Fleming, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Improvement and Innovation Board, said: ‘Councils are one of the most trusted parts of the public sector with this report showing they accepted 99.4% of Ombudsman recommendations to resolve complaints.

‘The report also demonstrates councils’ openness to Ombudsman recommendations, with an increase of cases where authorities have offered a suitable remedy during the local complaints process.’

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