Ombudsman annual report focuses on sharing the learning from complaints

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman did more to share the lessons from its investigations, according to its Annual Report and Accounts 2018-19.

Last year the Ombudsman published 50 reports and guidance documents, and more than 9,000 decision statements on its website, to help councils and care providers learn from its investigations.

These included its biggest research report to date, Under Pressure, which looked at the impact on its complaints of councils responding to resource pressures by changing how they deliver services.

It also published its first thematic report aimed directly at adult social care providers, Caring About Complaints.

The Ombudsman also gave evidence to an increasing number of select committee inquiries, helping to ensure important public policy debates are informed by real experiences of people. One example was the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee inquiry into the funding of local authorities’ children’s services.

It also met its targets for completing cases swiftly and made more recommendations to improve services for the wider public.

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

“I’m pleased with the increased amount of work this year to share the lessons from our investigations to help councils and care providers improve their services. This has rightly been a focus for us this year. If we simply go around fixing peoples’ problems one by one, service providers do not get the most value from our work and they miss opportunities to make improvements.

“By the nature of what we do, our reports often throw a light on examples of the worst failings. Despite that, councils and care providers on the whole deserve credit for working constructively with us to remedy injustices and learn.”

In 2018-19, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman dealt with a total of 34,119 complaints and enquiries from the public. Of the 18,482 cases it decided, 5,315 were dealt with by an initial investigation at the assessment stage, and 4,458 through a detailed investigation. The Ombudsman upheld 58% of detailed investigations, compared to 57% the previous year.

The Ombudsman met all of its time targets for completing investigations. It completed 78% of investigations within 13 weeks; 90% of investigations within 26 weeks; and 99% of investigations within 52 weeks. This means more than three quarters of its investigations are completed within three months.

It made 1,241 recommendations to improve services for the wider public, such procedural changes, policy reviews and council staff training.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman will publish its annual review of its local government complaints in the coming weeks. This gives more detail on the national trends in council complaints, as well as publishing its 2018-19 complaints data for each English local authority.

Article date: 17 July 2019

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