Education

02.08.17

Most council complaints in 2016-17 relate to education and children’s services

Councils received the most complaints about education and children’s services last year, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has today revealed.

In its release of data about local government complaints for 2016-17, adult social care received the next highest amount of complaints, followed by planning.

The highest uphold rate for children’s and education services complaints was in the north east, with 67% upheld, this compares with an uphold rate of 63% nationally. Yorkshire had the lowest percentage of children’s services complaints upheld, at 58%

In total, local authorities dealt with 16,000 complaints last year, of which more than half (54%) were upheld by the Ombudsman, up from 51% last year.

Overall, social care complaints were upheld the most often, in 64% of cases, whereas complaints with Planning and Development were least likely to be pushed through as only 35% were upheld.

It was also found that over a quarter (26%) of complaints to all authorities were submitted to London councils last year. In the capital, around 23% of complaints were about housing, a higher proportion than anywhere else in the country and almost double the average of 12%.  

And the West Midlands had the highest number of social care complaints upheld, standing at 73%, whilst the south east had the lowest at 52%.

The Ombudsman added that increasing complaints were not necessarily a bad thing, as it signalled that councils were open and welcoming to feedback, something he was keen to encourage.

“Our annual data release is a great opportunity for the public, councillors and council officers to gauge how their local authority responds to, and learns from, the complaints we receive about them,” said Local Government and Social Care ombudsman, Michael King.

“The best councils use our data to scrutinise the services they provide. I urge all councils to do that to make their services better in future,” King added.

“I want to encourage an open and mature attitude to complaints – one where they are valued within organisations as ‘free feedback’ and learning opportunities. Indeed, how an organisation deals with complaints says a lot about its culture.

“The data we have issued, and wealth of information we publish on our website, are a valuable source of information about complaints handling and council performance,” the ombudsman concluded. “I would urge people to take a look to see how they can use it to improve or scrutinise their authority’s performance.”

Top Image: Alex Skopje

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