[Steve Rice, Customer Engagement Manager, to present report]
Steve Rice, Customer Engagement Manager, explained that this was the first combined annual complaint report to Scrutiny Board covering all complaints received by the Council. The Customer Engagement Manager gave a breakdown of complaints and compliments received by Social Care, Public Health and Corporate services. The Customer Engagement Manager commented on the reduction in the number of complaints received.
The Customer Engagement Manager commented on the results of an analysis of annual letters sent to all Councils about complaints received. The results of the analysis showed that City of Wolverhampton Council had the lowest number of complaints upheld against it by the Ombudsman in 2015/16; when compared to neighbouring authorities.
The Board expressed concern regarding the proposal to put in place a twelve month time limit for a person to raise their complaint with the Council from the date of the incident or event concerned. The Board raised concerns regarding cases involving historical abuse. The Customer Engagement Manager explained that there is a separate process for dealing with such cases which will not be affected by the planned change. Members requested information regarding how many complaints would have been affected by this change in previous years. The Customer Engagement Manager agreed to provide this information to the Board.
The Board commented on the need for a robust complaint process and discussed how the number of complaints received should be interpreted as either evidence that people feel confident to use it or an indication of poor service.
The Customer Engagement Manager commented on the work done internally to investigate the types of complaints received and to identify trends where changes in policies and or procedures are need to improve performance.
The Customer Engagement Manager commented on the value to the service of learning from complaints to improve the quality of service provided. The Board discussed the criteria used to decide if an issue raised by a customer is treated as either a complaint or service request, and how this is captured in the information presented in the performance report. The Board commented on the need for greater clarity on how this information should be presented in the future.
The Board discussed the arrangements for monitoring complaints about commissioned services and the work done to ensure providers understand the process for recording complaints and when such complaints should be escalated.
The Customer Engagement Manager commented on the processes for checking contract compliance by external service providers. The Board suggested that this issue should considered by members of Adult and Safer City Scrutiny Panel.
The Customer Engagement Manager agreed to present a report on complaints process to a future meeting and a separate report to Adults and Safer City Scrutiny Panel on work done to monitor contract compliance.
The Board discussed the reasons for the difference at ward level in the number of complaints received by the Council.
1. The Board welcomed the report.
2. The Customer Engagement Manager agreed to undertake research to investigate the impact of 12 month limit on the number of complaints received in previous years and circulate this to the Board.
3. The issue of service providers complaints procedures in relation to contract compliance to be added to the agenda of Adults and Safer City Scrutiny Panel for more detailed work.