Over half of authority complaints settled in favour of residents
MORE than 450 people complained to the official Local Government Ombudsman about Birmingham City Council last year.
The majority of complaints were resolved following mediation and reconsideration, but of those finally decided by the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO), 60 per cent were settled in favour of residents.
The council is the largest local authority in the UK and therefore had by far the largest number of complaints made with 455.
The highest numbers of complaints were about housing, with 102 made, followed closely by benefits with 97. And in the year of the bin strike it is not surprising that 93 people complained about environmental services.
Issues dealt with included unsuitable housing, school admission problems and inadequate care service offered.
There were 92 complaints made about Sandwell council, 76 about Dudley, 72 each against Walsall and Wolverhampton and just 48 against Solihull.
The LGO investigates complaints by individuals, in a confidential manner, about their local council service and can force an authority to put the situation right.
It is usually contacted by people who have previously complained to the council and are unhappy with the response.
The complaints made about Birmingham in 2017/18 were: Adult social care: 51 complaints Benefits and tax: 97 Corporate/other services: 18 Education and children’s services: 49
Environmental services and regulation: 93 Highways and transport : 29 Housing: 102 Planning and development: 13 Other: 3 In the same year the numbers of cases resolved were 441 and of those:
21 were invalid or inadequate; 34 received advice; 221 were referred back for local resolution;
93 cases were closed after initial inquiries; 29 were not upheld; 43 were upheld. Michael King, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said: “Each year we publish our annual data for councils to help with transparency and improve services for people who live and work in any council’s area.
“We are pleased to continue our good working relationship with the vast majority of authorities, and appreciate the willingness we see in implementing our remedies and learning from our investigations.
“But, we believe there is so much more councils can do with the information we share every year – from these annual letters, our focus reports and public interest reports- and I would call on councillors, senior executives and anyone with an interest in scrutinising their local authority to improve the services they provide.”
Nationally, the Ombudsman registered 17,452 complaints and enquiries about local authorities in 2017-18, compared with 16,863 the previous year. The proportion of complaints it upheld rose to 57 per cent from 54 per cent.