The Assistant Director presented the report and explained that the borough council strived to provide excellent services to its customers, visitors and businesses, and to deliver those services right first time. It was explained that occasionally, customers may be dissatisfied with council services and would make a complaint about the service they had received. It was highlighted that the council’s current process focussed on the administration of complaints so a thorough review of the process had been conducted to drive greater consistency, reflect best practice, improve customer experience, and to ensure all complaints were dealt with appropriately.
The key issues were outlined as set out in the report.
Members’ attention was drawn to the following sections of the report:
· Section 7 – Complaints that cannot be considered under this policy.
· Section 9 – Timescales for making a complaint.
The Panel was informed that the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman offered training to Councils to assist the administration of their complaints processes. The council had booked the training for spring 2020 and all members of staff involved in the administration of complaints would be attending.
The Panel was invited to consider the draft corporate complaints policy and recommend approval to Cabinet.
The Assistant Director responded to questions in relation to the various stages of the complaints process and timescale to respond to complainants as set out in section 3 of the report.
Councillor Joyce asked what the level was of experienced officers dealing with complaints. In response, the Assistant Director explained that the complaint was initially considered by a Service Manager at Stage 1. However, if the complaint required specialist advice, for example, business rates, the complaint would be dealt with by a Service Manager with the relevant expertise. Members were advised that there were currently 15 staff processing complaints and would receive training in spring 2020.
Councillor Moriarty suggested that the Chair of the Standards Committee attend the training in spring 2020. In response, the Assistant Director advised that there was space on the training course.
In response to questions from Councillor Joyce on section 6 – Accessibility, the Assistant Director explained that written consent was required from any other third party to act on behalf of an individual.
Following questions from Councillor Morley on complaints where it was not possible to response in the required timescale, the Assistant Director explained that the relevant department would be informed of the number of days the response had exceeded the timescale. Democratic Services sent out reminders to officers when a response was due and this would escalated to service managers if necessary.
The Assistant Director provided clarification on MP enquiries received and explained that they were not processed as a corporate complaint.
In response to questions from the Chair regarding performance and how the data was analysed to identified trends, etc, the Assistant Director explained that the Council received an annual report from the Ombudsman and that this was reported to the Corporate Performance Panel. However, the Assistant Director undertook to include an annual monitoring report be presented to the Corporate Performance in future years.
RESOLVED: 1) The Panel considered the report and recommended that the Chair of the Standards Committee attend the training in spring 2020.
2) An annual monitoring report on Corporate Complaints be presented to the Panel.
2) The Panel recommended approval of the report to Cabinet subject to the above points being inserted into the policy.