Issue - meetings
Public Services Ombudsman for Wales (PSOW) Annual Letter 2020-21 and Complaints against Flintshire County Council during the first half of 2021-22
- Enc. 1 - PSOW Letter, item 81 PDF 149 KB
- Enc. 2 - Complaint categories by portfolio, item 81 PDF 54 KB
- Webcast for Public Services Ombudsman for Wales (PSOW) Annual Letter 2020-21 and Complaints against Flintshire County Council during the first half of 2021-22
(a) That the Committee notes the annual performance of the Council in respect of complaints made to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales during 2020-21;
(b) That the Committee notes the 2021-22 half year performance of the Council in respect of complaints made to services in line with its complaints procedure;
(c) That the Committee supports the actions outlined in paragraph 1.28 to improve complaints handling across the Council; and
(d) That the analysis data be shared with the Committee for information and a note placed on the forward work programme should the Committee wish to consider the analysis data at a future meeting.
The Chief Officer (Governance) introduced the report to share the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales (PSOW) Annual Letter which summarised the Council’s performance on complaints investigated during 2019-20. The report also included an overview of complaints against Council services between 1 April to 30 September 2021. Although there had been a decrease in the number of complaints made against the Council in 2020/21, this was higher than the Welsh average. However, this was due to the majority being premature (as the complaints procedure had not been fully exhausted), out of jurisdiction or closed after initial consideration by the PSOW.
Following detailed analysis, the Customer Contact Service Manager identified that Flintshire had the highest number of premature complaints in Wales and excluding these would put Flintshire broadly in line with other councils in North Wales. Whilst it was reassuring that over half of the complaints had been rejected at the start of the process, the findings identified the need for the Council to review its approach to promoting the complaints procedure and keeping complainants informed of progress on their complaints. Statistics relating to local complaints for the first half of 2021-22 found that 80% were dealt with within 20 working days and that regular reporting to the Chief Officer team was helping to improve the timeliness of complaint responses.
In welcoming the explanations behind the data, Councillor Richard Jones remained concerned at the number of complaints made to the PSOW about the Council’s complaints handling process, which may have influenced the number of premature complaints. Whilst welcoming the actions being taken, he referred to the table showing that Flintshire required more PSOW intervention than most other councils in Wales. He also said that some services were failing to respond to messages and that there should be a minimum expectation to acknowledge communications in the first instance.
In response, the Customer Contact Service Manager referred to the analysis data and explained that the classification of duplicate complaints could skew the figures. She spoke of positive engagement with the Complaints Standards Authority in helping to interpret the data, identify improvements and share good practice. Members were reminded of the contact officers within each portfolio with whom to refer complaints, in addition to contacting herself or Joanne Pierce.
Councillor Richard Lloyd thanked the officer for the detailed explanations and suggested that many residents referred complaints to the Council via their local Members. The Service Manager explained that the information currently published on the website about the complaints procedure was being reviewed and that any input from Members was welcomed. Following a question from the Chairman, she advised that paper copies of the complaints form could be requested from Flintshire Connects Centres.
The Chief Executive acknowledged the actions identified to improve performance and encourage residents to engage with the Council in the first step in the process, rather than escalating straight to the PSOW. He took the opportunity to point out that many complaints were handled well within services without reaching the PSOW stage.
Following ... view the full minutes text for item 81