Agenda item

Formal Complaints - Quarter 3 Summary

To receive a presentation on formal complaints – Quarter 3 Summary.


The Committee received the Formal Complaints – Quarter 3 Summary.


During the discussion of this item, the following points were made:


·       The establishment of the Complaints Focus Group was starting to show results:

Ø  Early intervention and resolution of complaints, preventing unnecessary escalation.

Ø  Better reporting - resulting in a rise of early resolution cases reported, 52 in Q3 compared to 4 in Q2.

Ø  Directorate reps taking ownership to input into their services.

Ø  Progressing actions to address the insight.

·       The Complaints Focus Group had established some of the key reasons that people complained; a lack of clear and accessible information about process and procedure and how this resulted in transparency issues around how decisions are made and; impact of social distancing rules and a knock-on effect on cold weather related complaints such as heating and other maintenance issues.

·       The number of complaints received had increased by 32% compared with Q2.  The rise in complaints for Q3 compared to Q2, was partly due to demand for Housing repairs over the winter.   Covid restrictions and social distancing meant that contractors had not been able to complete as many maintenance calls per day, which had led to some customer dissatisfaction.

·       Actions produced from the Complaints Focus Group were

Ø  to ensure that there was clear guidance on what was considered a complaint and how this might differ from unhappiness with a decision;

Ø  Tenant Services to request regular updates from contractors on maintenance call outs and for any delays to be communicated early to manage tenant expectations more effectively;

Ø  A log had been developed in Children’s Services so that learning from complaints could be recorded.

·       Lockdown had had an effect on complaint numbers and services had been affected differently.  Complaint numbers had steadily increased with the easing of the first lockdown, despite the second and third lockdowns.

·       Complaints relating to services within Resources and Assets, Place and Growth and Children’s Services made up a third of all complaints received.

·       The Children's Services Complaints Manager informed the Committee of complaints received under the Children’s Act under Q3.  12 complaints had been received under the Children’s Act statutory Children’s Services complaints process.  3 of these were considered to be out of scope, 4 complaints were resolved following discussions with service users and 5 received formal Stage 1 responses.  During Q3 there had been 3 Stage 2 complaints and 3 Stage 3 panels.  22 formally received compliments had been received during the period, an increase on Q2.

·       The Service Manager Customer Services Operations indicated that the Complaints Focus Group was progressing actions to address the insight highlighted under 4 headings:

Ø  Current environment;

Ø  Poor behaviours;

Ø  Lack of customer connection;

Ø  Lack of process management.

·       The priorities for the next quarter were as follows:

Ø  Better recording of complaints, for both formal and early resolution cases.

Ø  Rebranding of complaints ethos and information into a 'Voice of the Customer' theme – internal and external.

Ø  Redrafting and branding of the complaints policy, including clearer definitions around what is a service request versus a complaint.

Ø  New online complaint webpage and form designed to give the customer all the information they need in one place.

Ø  Better triaging of complaints received via the online form, before being directed to the appropriate team.

Ø  Clearer internal communication around how to deal with complaints, using the directorate reps and improved tools to help teams.

Ø  Training on how to deal with complaints, including the right communication methods, promotion of empathy and using plain English when writing responses. that under the

·       Councillor Shepherd-DuBey asked what the difference was between Stage 1, 2 and 3 complaints, and how they progressed from stage to stage.  The Service Manager Customer Services Operations outlined the different stages.  The complainant could request for their complaint to be escalated.

Ø  Early Resolution - an officer from the service area concerned would have a discussion with the customer.

Ø  Stage 1 – an investigation of the complaint and a formal written response sent by the relevant team leader or manager.

Ø  Stage 2 – an independent investigation on behalf of the Assistant Director or Director by the Customer Relations Team. 

Ø  Stage 3 – referral to the Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman or a Review Panel in the case of social care complaints.

·       Councillor Shepherd-DuBey asked whether complaints were received via letter and was informed that they were mostly received via email or verbal but that some letters were received.

·       Councillor Sargeant noted that the number of complaints being escalated to the Ombudsman was increasing over time.  He asked whether there was a particular trend that was causing this.  He also noted that of the 9 complaints escalated to the Ombudsman in Q3, 3 were still under review, and questioned when the Committee would be informed of the outcome of these.  The Service Manager Customer Services Operations stated that during the first lockdown the Ombudsman had closed and had not reopened until June, so they had had a backlog once they had reopened which the investigators were slowly working through.  In terms of those still outstanding, the next quarter report would report on those which had since been resolved.

·       Councillor Gee commented that the report was easy to understand.


RESOLVED:  That the Formal Complaints – Quarter 3 Summary be noted.

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