Mapping the changes – Ombudsman issues annual review of complaints

Ombudsman data about every local authority in England is now available at the click of a button.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has launched its annual review of local government complaints for 2018-19, and with it an innovative, interactive map to make each council’s information easily available.

The report shows the Ombudsman registered 16,899 complaints and enquiries over the period, more than a third of which were about Children and Education Services, and Adult Social Care.

When the Ombudsman upholds an investigation, it always recommends how councils can put things right for the individual. This year the Ombudsman made 3,525 of these kind of recommendations.

Ombudsman investigations can also lead to positive changes for many more than those originally affected. These changes can include redrafting policies and procedures, or conducting wholescale reviews of services. The Ombudsman recommended 1,450 service improvements in 2018-19, which have the potential to benefit tens of thousands of other people across the country.

Over the period, councils accepted and put in place Ombudsman recommendations in 99.4% of cases, demonstrating that the sector recognises and is willing to put things right when they go wrong.

Alongside the annual review of complaints, the Ombudsman is also launching its new interactive map which gives people the chance to see how their local authority is performing at the click of a button. The new map collates the annual letters the Ombudsman sends to each local authority, how often they have complied with Ombudsman recommendations, the improvements they have agreed to implement, and published decisions all in one place.

The Ombudsman is the first ombudsman scheme in the UK to present its data this way on its website.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said:

“All too often conversations about complaints focus on the raw numbers. We believe there is a much more productive discussion to be had about the outcomes of those complaints, the real-world improvements made and the lessons that can be shared.

“For the first time, we’re publishing all the ‘service improvements’ we’ve recommended; and the rate at which councils have taken them on board. And to help share these lessons more widely and encourage scrutiny, we’ve launched an online map, putting each council’s data just one click away

“The new map is a mine of searchable information that can be used by council officers to learn from complaints, councillors to scrutinise complaints and decisions about their authorities, and residents to hold their local authorities to account.”

The Ombudsman investigates complaints about all local authorities and social care providers in England. Every year it publishes the information it sends to councils to help with transparency and improve local services for residents. This annual summary is the number of complaints and enquiries it has received about the council, and the decisions made about those complaints.

Headline statistics

  • 4,232 detailed investigations, compared with 4,020 the previous year
  • 58% of investigations upheld compared with 57% the year before
  • recommendations to remedy more cases this year – up 11% (1,929 upheld cases)
  • Compliance is at 99.4%

Other statistics from across the country include:

  • London has the highest uphold rate, with 63% of all detailed investigations being upheld
  • The North East region has the lowest uphold rate at 46%
  • The North East has the highest proportion of Children and Education complaints upheld, with the East Midlands having the lowest proportion
  • The North East has the highest proportion of Adult Care complaints upheld, with the East Midlands area having the lowest

Article date: 31 July 2019

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