Ombudsman reveals all on council complaints

Adult social care was one of the most hotly discussed topics
Adult social care was one of the most hotly discussed topics

The local authority watchdog upheld five complaints about Wigan Council and received 67 complaints and inquiries about the town hall in a 12-month-period, figures reveal.

Data released by the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) showed a total of 65 decisions made between 2016 and 2017, which is 20 less than the year before.

Wigan residents most commonly contacted the local ombudsman regarding adult social care, with 16 enquiries on the subject.

Other hot topics of discussion include benefits and tax, with 14 enquiries, and education and children’s services alongside planning and development both with 10 queries.

However, the figures released by the LGO show that the majority of enquiries were not fully investigated, with 30 being referred back to Wigan Council for resolution and 14 being closed after initial enquiries.

Paul McKevitt, deputy chief executive, said: “In the last year only 15 complaints were investigated by the Ombudsman and only five of those were upheld, compared to 12 last year.

“Our figures are showing a downward trend in upheld complaints which is great news and a reflection of the hard work and dedication of our staff. The overall figure published by the LGO is higher than this because, for example, it includes people who make enquiries but then never contact the council with a complaint. We strive to provide the most efficient, value for money services to local residents.

“We welcome constructive criticism and feedback to help us improve services. We take all complaints very seriously and will always seek fair and transparent resolutions in a timely manner.”

Enquiries made by Wiganers to the watchdog fall in line with national statistics, with the majority of complaints and enquiries made in England relating to adult social services, planning and education.

This year on average, 54 per cent of complaints in England were upheld. This is up from 51 per cent in 2015/16, and 46 per cent the previous year.

Michael King, LGO, said: “How an organisation deals with complaints says a lot about its culture.”