The Deputy Director of Finance submits a report to the Audit and Risk Committee, which provides and update on the corporate non-statutory complaints in 2020/21, and for Members to note improvements, comment upon our actions from the lessons learned and planned future changes.
The Committee is recommended to note and comment upon the report observations, including the comparisons and improvements within the administration of complaint handling, and comment upon the Council’s actions for future change.
The Deputy Director of Finance submitted a report to the Audit and Risk Committee, which provided an update on the corporate non-statutory complaints in 2020/21, and for Members to note improvements, comment upon the Council’s actions from the lessons learned and planned future changes.
Nilkesh Patel, Service Improvement Manager, presented the report, noting that:
· Investigation of new complaints had been paused due to limited service as resources had been focussed on emergency contact during the pandemic. The complaints service had since resumed full operations.
· Fewer complaints had been received during 2020/2021 (671) compared to 2019/2020 (1,328).
· Of the complaints received, 422 (63%) had been triaged to the appropriate service area, whilst 249 were investigated, a reduction of 32% compared to the previous year.
· There were various reasons for complaints, with Housing services receiving the largest amount at 46%. Revenues and Customer Support received 28% of all complaints.
· The lower numbers of complaints could have been due to the pause in Housing Repairs service having only dealt with emergency repairs during the pandemic period.
· Service improvements had driven down complaints, for example, services were being proactive in adhering to the triage / complaint prevention process, by finding resolution at an early stage, and by meeting with services to try and improve ongoing development to reduce complaints.
· There were some operational risks should complaint volumes increase through an unforeseen circumstance or staffing resources.
· There was a new Housing Ombudsman Complaints Handling Code which required the authority to introduce a new two-stage complaints process, which had had an impact, increasing the number of complaints.
· If there appeared to be a trend of particular complaint, a meeting would be arranged with service directors, and an analysis of an area undertaken. Findings would be recorded and monitored for improvement following ombudsman recommendations.
That Chair asked that a report be brought to a future meeting of Audit and Risk to see if complaints figures had improved with the new system and better analysis.
Members raised points with officers and the following information was provided:
· An issue that had been raised by member of the public was the length of time it took for customer services to answer a phone call, sometimes hanging up after a while. It was also asked if there were plans to open the Customer Services reception fully for people who wanted to talk to someone in person now that the pandemic restrictions had been lifted. Officers noted that the call answering times were a problem, but it was explained that Customer Services staff had been diverted onto other things such as Covid grants, and track and trace service. It was also noted that the Housing repairs services had recommenced in Autumn 2021, which had generated many thousands of calls.
· The Customer Services centre had been open for six months, opening by appointment on Tuesday and Thursday of each week. It was reported that demand for the pool of appointments had not been filled, but would be kept under review as pandemic restrictions were lifted.
· A comment was made about orange bags from Biffa not being delivered. The Service Improvement Manager would report the issue back to Waste Management.
· Members noted that there used to be customer service hubs at various places around the city, and that constituents without smart phones were being digitally excluded. In response, it was reported that the hubs had merged over time with other services to best manage resources, for example, many services could now be accessed in libraries. The Deputy Director of Finance stated he would circulate to Members information on what services people could access at different locations.
The Chair noted the report and comments made by Members.
1. The report be noted.
2. Officers note the comments made by Members
3. A report be brought to a future meeting of Audit and Risk to see if complaints figures had improved with the new system and better analysis.
4. The Service Improvement Manager report to Waste Management the issue over non-delivery of requested orange bags.
5. The Deputy Director of Finance to circulate to Members information on the different services that could be accessed at various locations around the city.