Interpreting local authority statistics

Complaints and enquiries received 2013/14, 2014/15, 2015/16 and 2016/17

This information covers the statistics included in the annual reviews to councils for 2013/14, 2014/15, 2015/16 and 2016/17. For previous years see note on interpreting local authority statistics 2008 - 2012.

LGO has published statistics for each of the authorities within its jurisdiction for many years. In April 2014, we changed how we classified the results of complaints. We now describe our decisions in terms of upholding and not upholding complaints, which brings us closer in practice with how other Ombudsman schemes and many local authorities describe their decisions.

It must be remembered the bare numbers of complaints against an authority do not prove that it is a ‘bad’ or ‘good’ council. The larger the population an authority serves, the more likely we will receive complaints about it. A significant uplift in complaint numbers again does not necessarily show that a council has become worse at what it does. We may have received several complaints about the same issue from different residents, for example a controversial planning decision or application. An authority may have a 50% uplift in complaints against it, but when we received two complaints against it last year, and four this year, this cannot lead to the conclusion the service the council provides has significantly worsened.

How complaints and enquiries were dealt with is explained below:

Complaints Remedied

For the years 2015/16 and 2016/17 we provide information about complaints remedied. Where we find that an authority has acted with fault and this has caused an injustice to a complainant, we will make a recommendation about the action an authority should take to remedy that injustice. An Ombudsman’s recommendations are not binding however most authorities comply with our recommendations without the need for any further action by the Ombudsman. We will also uphold a complaint that has come to us where the authority has already accepted during its own complaints processes that it acted with fault and it has offered what we consider to be a suitable remedy. The figures for ‘complaints remedied satisfactorily by Authority before LGO involvement’ demonstrate the number of times we have received complaints against an authority but it has already taken all the steps it needed to.