The Delivery Manager for Customer Relations and Welfare Services presented the Annual Customer Feedback Report and assurance on lessons learnt during the period 1 April 2019 and 31 March 2020. The purpose of the report was to provide assurance to the Committee that the response to complaints was effective and the Council continuously improving. There were 477 complaints received during the reporting period which was a 4% reduction on 2018/19 and the lowest number of complaints in the previous 6 years. The percentage of upheld complaints in 2019/20 had reduced to 43% from 48% in previous year. Where fault was found the procedures have been reviewed to enable wider learning to be identified and to avoid any future complaints of a similar nature and improve customer experience. The Council responded to corporate complaints in an average of 11 days which was well within the 15 day deadline and a significant improvement on the 14 days achieved in the previous year. Some 81% of complaints were dealt with in 15 days which is an improvement on 74% achieved in the previous year. There was a 16% increase in the combined compliments and positive feedback received. There had been a slight increase in adult statutory complaints were received which was slightly up on previous years and 65% were upheld and increase from 54% the previous year and learning had been taken from these complaints in order to embed these into the Council’s processes. The Council aimed to respond to complaints within 25 working days, but due to the nature and complexity of some of the cases these can often take longer with the complainant being informed and timescales increased to a maximum of 65 days. In 2019/20 the average number of days responding to a statutory complaints was 51 working days and was an improvement from the 56 working days on the previous year. No adult statutory complaint exceeded the statutory six month timescale as outlined in the legislation. With regard to childrens services 50 statutory complaints were received which was an increase on the 42 received in the previous year. Upheld complaints totalled 43% a slight reduction from the 44% upheld last year. Again learning had been taken from these complaints and embedded within the service. Stage 1 childrens services complaints are responded to within 10 working days, extended to 20 working days if required. In 2019/20 there was an average response time of 21 working days and although this was an improved response time on the previous year of 25 days this needs to be improved to meet the statutory requirements. Some 76% were responded to within the timescales and we are working closely with the service to improve that this year and in future years. Stage 2 complaints were responded to in an average of 37 working days which went forward to investigation and no Stage 3 investigations were undertaken. In 2019/20 the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman confirmed that they undertook 13 detailed investigations that have followed both our local and statutory complaints process. Seven of these complaints we found to be upheld (54%) and this average is slightly lower than the averages for other similar local authorities. One complaint had received a statutory remedy prior to being given consideration and have been 100% compliant with the Local Government Ombudsman recommendation compared to 99% compliant by similar local authorities.
During the debate some Members felt that overall it was good to see an improvement across all areas but felt that complaints should not need to go to the Local Government Ombudsman and to have 13 submitted and 7 upheld was the only slightly negative comment on an overall positive report.
Members noted the report.