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					CALDERDALE MBC
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STANDARDS COMMITTEE

COMPLAINTS PROCEDURE – ANNUAL REPORT 2008/9 & 2009/10


REPORT OF THE HEAD OF CUSTOMER SERVICES AND COMMUNICATIONS


1.   ISSUE

1.1. The purpose of this report is to provide an overview of corporate complaints and
     compliments for the periods 1 April 2008 to 31 March 2009 and 1 April 2009 to 31 March
     2010.

1.2. In October 2009 a restructure of the organisation resulted in some services going into
     different directorates. This report reflects the new structure with effect from that date.

1.3. It should be noted that only corporate complaints and compliments are included in this
     report. Adult and Children’s Social Care complaints and compliments are dealt with
     through statutory procedures.

1.4. However, Adult and Children’s Social Care complaints can be investigated by the Local
     Government Ombudsman when the statutory process has been completed.


2.   NEED FOR A DECISION

2.1 The report fulfils the requirement to report to the Committee on the performance of the
    corporate complaints and compliments procedure and those complaints dealt with by the
    Local Government Ombudsman.


3.   RECOMMENDATION

3.1. Standards Committee are asked to note the report.
4.   PERFORMANCE OVERVIEW

4.1 Stage one informal complaints are dealt with at service level. There was a small increase
    in the number of complaints received in 2008/9 (172), compared with the previous year
    (137), and the number rose significantly to 453 in 2009/10.

4.2 If a customer makes a formal complaint it is dealt with at stage two of the procedure by
    the Head of Service. There was a small increase in the number of complaints received in
    2008/9 (133), compared with the previous year (128), and the number fell again in
    2009/10 to 127.

4.3 If a customer is dissatisfied with the response they receive at stage two, they can request
    a further review, stage three, of their complaint by the Chief Executive. The number of
    stage three complaints received in 2008/9 was 29, the same as the previous year, and
    there was a small increase in 2009/10 to 32.

4.4 If the customer remains dissatisfied they can approach the Local Government
    Ombudsman for an independent investigation of their complaint. The number of complaints
    reviewed by the Local Government Ombudsman fell in 2008/9 (22) compared to the
    previous year (30). There were no adverse findings against the Council (i.e.
    maladministration) during this period, although there were 10 local settlement decisions
    made.

4.5 The number of complaints reviewed by the Local Government Ombudsman rose slightly in
    2009/10 to 23. The Ombudsman made two findings of maladministration against the
    Council (same issue) and, as a result, issued a public report. In addition, 10 local
    settlement decisions were made.

4.6 Tables A1 and B1 show the number of complaints broken down by directorate for 2008/9
    and 2009/10.

5.   COMPLAINTS UPHELD

5.1 Tables A2 and B2 show the percentage of complaints upheld or partially upheld in 2008/9
    and 2009/10.

5.2 An increase in complaints, upheld or partially upheld, does not necessarily point to
    serious service failures occurring. However such findings indicate the Council’s
    willingness to apologise for mistakes, to carry out remedial action to the customers’
    satisfaction and to learn from complaints.

5.3 It should be noted that, where a complaint has been through all three stages of the
    complaints procedure, the complaint is counted at each stage.

5.4 The Local Government Ombudsman categories which are used to reflect whether or not
    a complaint is upheld (fully or partially) are indicated by findings of ‘maladministration’
    and ‘local settlements’. During 2008/9 there were no findings of maladministration and 10
    local settlements compared with 2007/8 when there were no findings of
    maladministration and 9 local settlements. In 2009/10 the Ombudsman made findings of
    maladministration with injustice in two complaints (but the same issue) and issued a
    report. In 10 other complaints the Council agreed to a local settlement.
6.   TIMELINESS OF COMPLAINTS HANDLING

6.1 The Council’s complaints procedure acknowledges the need for complaints to be dealt
    with in a timely manner but, most importantly, that complaints are dealt with fairly and
    thoroughly. The timescale for response at stage one is 10 working days and for both
    stages two and three it is 15 working days.

6.2 84% of complaints in 2008/9 at stage one were responded to within the agreed
    timescale, compared to 70% in the previous year, and this fell to 72% in 2009/10.

6.3 77% of complaints at stage two received a timely response in 2008/9, compared to 74%
    in the previous year, and this fell to 66% in 2009/10.

6.4 Complaints at stage three of the Council’s procedure tend to be more complex and, as
    such, can take longer than the 15 working days to investigate. In 2008/9 36% were
    completed within the timescale, compared to 31% in the previous year, but this fell to
    28% in 2009/10. However customers are always kept advised of progress and provided
    with an indication of when the response will be received.

6.5 The timescale to respond to Ombudsman complaints is 28 calendar days and the
    average response time for 2008/9 was 29.4 days, compared to 26.6 days in the previous
    year, and rose to 29.7 days in 2009/10.

7.   COMPLIMENTS

7.1 The Council values feedback from its customers and whilst it obviously focuses on
    resolving problems and issues raised as complaints, it is also important to recognise the
    positive feedback that is received from customers.

7.2 Tables A3 and B3 provide a summary of compliments received in 2008/9 and 2009/10.
    The number of compliments increased in 2008/9 to 356 compared with 323 received in
    the previous year and increased again in 2009/10 to 544.

7.3 These figures do not include Adult and Children’s Social Care compliments as they are
    reported separately.

8.   LOCAL GOVERNMENT OMBUDSMAN

8.1 The Ombudsman made 22 decisions on complaints during 2008/9. There were no
    findings of maladministration but in 10 cases the Council agreed to a local settlement.
    They were:
         2 Benefits complaints
         1 Income complaint
         1 complaint about Legal Services
         3 complaints about Planning Services
         2 complaints about Children & Young People’s Services
         I complaint about Highways

8.2 The Annual Letter 2008/9 from the Local Government Ombudsman is attached at
    Appendix C.
8.3 The Ombudsman made 23 decisions on complaints during 2009/10. There were two
    findings of maladministration with injustice and the Ombudsman issued a public report
    (previously circulated to all members of the Committee); the two complaints were
    regarding the same issue. The Council had granted planning permission for an
    extension to a local school without giving proper consideration to the Grade 2* listed
    building adjacent to the school. The Ombudsman made several recommendations in
    her report and the Council has accepted, and is in the process of implementing, all the
    recommendations.

8.4 In addition, the Council agreed to local settlements in 10 cases. They were:
         4 complaints about Adult Health & Social Care
         1 complaint about Waste Management
         1 Planning complaint
         1 complaint about Council Tax
         1 complaint about Legal Services
         1 complaint about Children’s Social Care
         1 complaint regarding the Home to School Transport Policy

8.5 The Annual Letter 2009/10 from the Ombudsman is attached at Appendix D.

9    LESSONS LEARNT

9.1 The Council is keen to learn from complaints in order that we can improve our services
    and, as such, collate information about the actions taken following complaints that are
    fully or partially upheld.

9.2 In 2008/9 service improvements included:

          Replacement of many computers of the People’s Network in libraries
          Improved signage in the Central Library
          Better information regarding any problems at Halifax pool
          Regular checks to improve cleanliness levels at Sports Centres
          Benefits Unit to standardise, and improve, requests for information to reduce
           avoidable contact
          Members of staff are undertaking the Institute of Customer Service Award
           programme
          Review of internal procedures in relation to disclosure of information.

9.3 In 2009/10 service improvements included:

            Changes made to Home to School Transport Policy
            Opening hours reviewed at Todmorden Sports Centre
            Full review of all standards letters by the Benefits Unit
            Improved consultation regarding equipment when play areas are refurbished
            Monitoring staff levels in libraries
            Gates to be reinstalled at Brighouse library and signage
            Dog wardens to patrol area and issue fines where appropriate
            Training issues identified and taken up by senior officer
            Traffic Order put in place to relieve parking problems
9.4 The Council also arranged training for investigating officers on effective complaints
    handling. This course was provided by the Local Government Ombudsman’s office in
    February 2009 and 28 officers attended.

                                                                              ________


     FOR FURTHER INFORMATION ON THIS REPORT CONTACT:

     Ann Wardle, Head of Customer Service and Communications, Safer & Stronger
     Communities, telephone 01422 393201
APPENDIX A 2008/9

Table A1: Number of complaints received by directorate at each stage of the Council’s
           procedure

Directorate                  Informal             Stage 1              Stage 2              Ombudsman
                               07 08      08 09    07 08       08 09    07 08       08 09    07 08  08 09
Chief Executive’s Office        1           0        0           0        0           0        0      0

Community Services             83          69       26            20      5          6        6       1

Corporate Services              2          3        40            30      1          4        1       4

Children & Young People’s
Services                        1          5         7            11      3          5        1       5

Health & Social Care           13          48        6            15      3          2        5       1

Regeneration &                 37          47       49            57      17         12       17      11
Development

Total                          137        172       128        133        29         29       30      22




 Table A2: percentage of complaints upheld or partially upheld during 2008/9

  Directorate                       Stage 1 Informal        Stage 2 HoS        Stage 3 C/Exec
  Chief Executive’s Office          0%                      0%                 0%

  Community Services                74%                     70%                40%

  Corporate Services                33%                     30%                25%

  Children & Young                  80%                     64%                20%
  People’s Services
  Health & Social Care              54%                     53%                0%

  Regeneration &                    28%                     21%                0%
  Development

  Types of complaint received:
      Passport to Leisure voucher scheme too short
      Printers in Hebden Library not working
      Lack of gritting and salt bins
      Council’s failure to deal with dog fouling issues
      Failure to call customer back as promised
      Delay in completing refurbishment of Shelf Village Hall
      Car park at Shibden Park in poor condition due to surface water
         Personal documents lost between one Council office and another
         Poor service from Benefits Unit
         Disclosure of personal data
         Planning application not dealt with correctly
         Lack of cleanliness in changing rooms at Sports Centres
         Breach of data protection




Table A3: Compliments received in 2008/9

  Directorate                             Number received
  Chief Executive’s Office                        6

  Community Services                               123

  Corporate Services                               32

  Children & Young People’s                        33
  Services
  Health & Social Care                             49

  Regeneration & Development                       113

  Total                                            356
APPENDIX B 2009/10

Table B1: Number of complaints received by directorate at each stage of the Council’s
          procedure.

  Directorate                    Informal                Stage 1           Stage 2            Ombudsman
                                   08 09       09 10      08 09    09 10   08 09 09 10        08 09  09 10

  Chief Executive’s Office           0             2        0       0       0        0          0        0

  Community Services                 69            x       20        x      6        x          1        X


  Corporate Services                 3             x       30        x      4        x          4        x
  Children & Young
  People’s Services                  5             1       11       14      5        2          5        4

  Health & Social Care               48            x       15        x      2        x           1       x
  Regeneration &                     47            x       57        x      12       x          11       x
  Development
  Deputy Chief Executive’s
  Office                             x             2        x       1       x        0          x        2
  Adult Health & Social
  Care                               x             0        x        0      x        0          x        5
  Economy &                          x            330       x       73      x        14         x        10
  Environment
  Safer & Stronger                   x            118       x       39      x        16         x        2
  Communities
  Total                                  172       453       133     127        29       32         22       23

  x - Directorate does not exist in this period

 Table B2: Percentage of complaints upheld or partially upheld during 2009/10

  Directorate                                  Stage 1 Informal      Stage 2 HoS         Stage 3 C/Exec
  Chief Executive’s Office                     100%                  0%                  0%

  Deputy Chief Executive’s Office              50%                   100%                100%

  Adult Health & Social Care                   0%                    0%                  0%

  Children & Young                             0%                    36%                 50%
  People’s Services
  Safer & Stronger Communities                 49%                   45%                 25%

  Economy & Environment                        76%                   45%                 13%


  Types of complaint received:
      Few departments open after Bank Holiday
      Cost of bookmarks and posters showing six Equality Champions
       Delay in getting decision on application for Disabled Facilities Grant
       Members of the public not invited to attend opening event at Hebden Bridge Library
       Delay in getting through on 0845 number due to high volume of calls due to new
        recycling scheme
       Cost of photocopying in library is too much
       Against proposed change to Halifax Central Library
       Breach of personal data
       Information not passed from one section to another
       Poor attitude of staff
       Allegation of staff smoking outside Council offices
       Failure to provide correct recycling containers
       Unable to get smaller wheelie bins
       Missed recycling and waste collections
       Time taken to prosecute case of fly-tipping
       Lack of enforcement action regarding alleged breach of planning condition
       Unfair interpretation of new government guidance on Home to School
        Transport policy




Table B3: Compliments received in 2009/10

Directorate                                    Number
                                               received
Chief Executive’s Office                              23

Deputy Chief Executive’s Office                          0

Safer & Stronger Communities                           238

Children & Young People’s Services                      18

Adult Health & Social Care                               0*

Economy & Environment                                  265

Total                                                  544


* This are reported separately under the statutory procedure.

				
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