Complaints date for West Midlands councils released

Figures show increase in complaints being upheld.

Complaints data for every council in the West Midlands for 2020-21 has been published by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman as part of its annual review of local government complaints.

For every authority, the data contained within the report, which analyses all the complaints and enquiries the LGSCO has received over the past twelve months, is uploaded onto the ombudsman’s interactive map, which now contains three years of searchable data.

Data from this year’s statistics shows for the West Midlands region:

– 10% of all complaints from this area
– 76% uphold rate, up from 66% – the biggest increase nationwide, and highest uphold rate nationwide, greater than the nationwide uphold rate of 67%
– Most complaints are about Children and Education (22% was 22%)
– Fewest complaints about Corporate and Other Services (6% was 5%)
– Highest uphold rate: Children and Education (83%) – the joint second highest in the country (national average 77%) and Environmental Services (82%, was 80%) – highest uphold rate in the country, against a national uphold rate of 58%.
– Lowest uphold rate: Corporate and Other (50% was 30%)

This region has the lowest uphold rate in the country for Adult Social Care (57%) and Highways (14%) and also has the smallest proportion of its complaints about Environmental Services (10%).

Nationally, over the past year the Ombudsman has upheld a greater proportion of investigations – 67% – than ever before. This continues an upward trend since the Ombudsman started publishing its uphold rate.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (pictured), said: “We’ve been issuing our annual reviews for the past seven years now, and while every year has seen its challenges, this year seems to have been the most difficult for local authorities.

“While the way local authorities dealt with the pressures of COVID-19 is still being played out in our casework, early indications suggest it is only widening the cracks that were already there, and has deepened our concerns about the status of complaints services within councils. These concerns are not new and cannot be wholly attributed to the trials of the pandemic.

“I am concerned about the general erosion to the visibility, capacity, and status of complaint functions within councils.

“Listening to public complaints is an essential part of a well-run and properly accountable local authority, committed to public engagement, learning, and improvement. I know the best councils still understand this and put local democracy and good complaints handling at the forefront of their services.”

The Ombudsman also writes to local councils giving them a round-up of the complaints the organisation has received about them. These letters are published on the Ombudsman’s website.