Complaints about council up by 74 per cent

Reporter:

James Harrison

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Complaints about the Royal Borough to the local government watchdog rose sharply in the last financial year.

The data from the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) showed it received 54 complaints about the council in 2015/16, up from 31 received in 2014/15, an increase of 74 per cent.

The two worst performing areas were Adult Social Care and Education and Children’s Services, both of which were cited 14 times.

According to the ombudsman’s annual review, complaints about adult social care provision in England rose four per cent on the previous year.

But for the Royal Borough, complaints about the service were up 133 per cent in 12 months – rising from six complaints in 2014/15.

Cllr David Coppinger (Con, Bray), cabinet member for adult services, said he would need to see the report before giving a full response, but added he thought the increase was as a result of 2014’s Care Act, which makes councils give more consideration to carers, as well as the cared for.

Cllr Ross McWilliams, deputy cabinet member for policy, said figures may have been skewed by people going directly to the ombudsman, rather than going to the Royal Borough first and denied the data could suggest a lack of confidence in council complaint procedures.

He was also keen to point out that just four complaints dealt with in 2015/16 were upheld.

In a statement, Dr Jane Martin, Local Government Ombudsman, said: “While the number of complaints we receive is relatively small in comparison to the thousands of daily interactions between people and their councils, each complaint represents a problem that could not be resolved locally.

“I am pleased to provide more information this year about how complaints are decided and remedied.

“This demonstrates the impact our recommendations have for both the individual and the wider public, but also acknowledges where we agreed the local authority had remedied the complaint satisfactorily before it came to us.

“On the other hand, we upheld a higher proportion of detailed investigations, which may be a cause for concern if the trend continues.”

Visit www.lgo.org.uk to find out more and read the report in full.

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