To present the report of the Director of Function (Council Business)/ Monitoring Officer.
The report of the Head of Function (Council Business)/Monitoring Officer setting out issues arising under the Council’s Concerns and Complaints Policy for the period 1 April, 2021 to 31 March, 2022 was presented for the Committee’s consideration. The report included Social Services complaints but only those where the complainant is not a service user. Social Services user complaints are dealt with separately under the Social Services Policy – Representations and Complaints Procedure for Children and Adults which are reported to the Social Services Improvement Panel.
In response to points raised by the Committee on the contents of the report, the Director of Function (Council Business) /Monitoring Officer –
· Confirmed that the pattern and number of complaints is constant and show signs of returning to a pre Covid position, the pandemic having impacted significantly on Council activity over the course of two years.
· Clarified that the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales does write to complainants when their complaints are not deemed to reach the threshold for investigation. Usually in such cases, the PSOW is satisfied with the Council’s formal response and own investigation. Both the PSOW and Council websites explain how to make a complaint and what can and cannot be looked at by the Ombudsman.
· Explained with regard to lack of communication being a common theme of complaints and the need to remind services of the importance of timely communication, that under new arrangements with the PSOW which will apply to next year’s report, the same level of data that is currently being collected for complaints will be collected and reported both to the PSOW and on the Council’s website in relation to expressions of concern potentially making available a richer and more comprehensive stream of information thereby providing services with a greater opportunity for learning. A change in terminology is also proposed involving the introduction of a three stage process where stage once covers the current expression of concern, stage two will be the formal complaint and stage 3 will be the escalation of a complaint to the PSOW the intention being to clarify and to obtain a greater level of information from the process. The changes will be shared with services and training will be provided.
· Advised that although the Council’s performance as regards complaint handling is no longer benchmarked against that of other councils in Wales, when that was the case Anglesey Council was close to the top of the national performance table in terms of service delivery. The newly appointed PSOW in a meeting with the Council’s Chief Executive expressed satisfaction with the way the Council manages complaints and the number it receives and no issues were raised. The Official from the PSOW’s Office who delivered training on complaints to members of this Committee did refer to the expressions of concern data which under a new PSOW requirement it is necessary to publish. The Council will be capturing and reporting on this data next year.
· Advised that as in many other councils, complaints against aspects of service in Resources, Housing and Social Services account for the majority of the complaints received by the Council; these are services that affect people personally and as such are areas that are more likely to generate complaints.
It was resolved that the Governance and Audit Committee accepts the report as providing reasonable assurance that the Council handles its complaints effectively and makes no recommendation in relation to the Council’s ability to handle complaints effectively and in accordance with its Corporate Concerns and Complaints Policy.