Over half of au­thor­ity com­plaints set­tled in favour of res­i­dents

Birmingham Post - - NEWS -

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.

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