Slow responses to complaints blasted


WIGAN’S council chiefs have vowed to improve their complaints procedure in relation to children and families after a damming report revealed that the authority had long delays in dealing with complaints and even had to pay compensation to some families.

The report, which was put before the Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee this week, said that £10,500 was paid out in financial redress and that 12 per cent of complaints were not responded to by managers last year.

But while admitting that errors were on occasions made and that improvements were necessary, town hall bosses also point out that complaints take up a very small percentage of cases.

Wigan Council director for children and families, Anne Goldsmith, said: “Wigan Council’s children’s specialist services deal with some of the most vulnerable children, young people and their families in Wigan borough. Sometimes we have to make some very difficult decisions about intervening in a family to protect a child or young person.

“We acknowledge that on a small number of occasions, we do make mistakes. We are working to ensure that when we do, we learn from them and take measures to improve performance.

“It is also important to us that we acknowledge the concerns raised and apologise directly to the people affected.

“This complaint report highlights that we must do better to improve our performance in responding to complaints at the earliest opportunities (stages one and two).

“Some of the steps we have taken have already resulted in a reduction in complaints at stage two, falling from 19 in 2012-13 to six in 2013-14. We provide training to frontline staff in order to improve our performance and reduce stage one complaints.

“In a tiny minority of cases, and in accordance with our policies and procedures, it may be appropriate to offer some small financial redress.

“Most of our families find resolution in an apology and in a commitment to try and prevent any errors made from happening again.”

The report also revealed that six cases were referred to the Local Government Ombudsman in 2012/13 of which two were found to contain maladministration, resulting in the council’s apologising to the families involved.