The purpose of this report was to provide the Committee with an update on the current process and a proposal on the way all corporate complaints will be monitored, recorded, and reported going forward.
Whilst it will not be feasible to incorporate all Stage 1 and Stage 2 complaints into a central system, there are ways to improve the way complaints are reported to the Committee on an annual basis, to ensure full visibility across the organisation. It is proposed that all Directorates will provide their Stage 1 and Stage 2 data to the central team to enable this to be collated with the data already held centrally and included in
the annual update report to the Committee.
A Member, noting how much work had gone into considering this issue, drew attention to three matters:
The Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change confirmed that complaints that go on to the Ombudsman need to be included in the data. It was crucial that the Council is fair and has made every attempt to address a complaint before steps are taken to classify it as vexatious. She acknowledged that it could be helpful to get more information on location of the complainant for example, to enrich the data set.
A Member noted there could be much to learn about handling complaints from other local authorities or the private sector.
Another Member drew attention to the fact that society looks at a complaint as a negative thing, but they can be viewed in a positive way as well. He wondered if the Council had a way of extracting positives and service improvements from a complaint.
The Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change thought this a key point. She acknowledged that the whole point of dealing with complaints is to make sure that people are happy with the outcome, but also that the organisation learns as a result of it. If there is something that has not been done well, or if there's an idea that comes forward which could improve things, then the Council needs to learn from that.
The Chairperson made a couple of observations to conclude this agenda item: firstly, that a complaint was an opportunity to improve service delivery; and secondly, there could be an issue of under-reporting of complaints, especially in respect of those received by Councillors. He thought this was an issue that needed to be looked at, to ensure they are fed into the corporate process.
He noted that the Committee would receive a bi-annual report on complaints and hoped they would discuss good practice outputs.
In response to the issue of the under-reporting, and specifically complaints made to Councillors, a Member noted that inputs in the referral system could be analysed and incorporated into the report.
The Chairperson noted that the Council does not want a false sense of security about service delivery.
The Committee noted the report and agreed the proposed process for collating all complaints data centrally to present to the Committee on a bi-annual basis, without the need to develop a single corporate complaints computerised system.