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Draft Corporate Complaints Policy

Have your say.

Consultation status Closed
Start date: 2023-11-01
End date: 2023-12-13
Results 2024-02-28
Category:
Ward:

Activity closed.

Background

The Local Government Act 1974 established an Ombudsman, called the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO), which has statutory functions to investigate complaints about local authorities or adult care providers, and provides advice and guidance on good administrative practice.

There is no specific legislation which requires local authorities to have a corporate complaints process, however, they all publish their complaints policies. 

Our Icon for pdf current Corporate Complaints Procedure [347KB] , which was published in 2020 and is due to be reviewed, has three stages: 

  • Stage 1 response: usually managed by the relevant service unit
  • Stage 2 response: if the complainant is dissatisfied by the Stage 1 response, the complaint is reviewed by a senior officer in another service; historically this has been the Corporate Complaints Manager, and is currently being undertaken by members of Legal Services
  • Stage 3: a right to refer to the LGSCO for independent review

Please note that there are separate statutory complaints processes for Children and Family Services and Adult Social Care.


What we are proposing

  1. To introduce a requirement that all Stage 1 complaints are centrally recorded by the Strategy and Governance Department, and the relevant Head of Service or Service Lead.

There is currently no requirement for Stage 1 complaints to be monitored centrally. It is expected that by recording centrally, and in the relevant service, that there will be much greater corporate visibility. Any concerning trends or issues will be identified by senior managers, and this will enable them to consider early intervention or prevention measures. It is also hoped that this would also reduce the number of complaints progressing to Stage 2 and beyond, which in turn lessen the demand on officer time.

  1. For Executive Directors, or their nominated representative, to undertake Stage 2 complaint responses within their respective Directorate.

By transferring the drafting and investigation of Stage 2 complaints from Legal officers to the relevant service, the response would be made by those officers with specialist, technical, first-hand knowledge of the situation. A Stage 2 response by the Executive Director and/or Service Director should also reduce the amount of capacity required from our Legal Service. 

The undertaking of Stage 2 complaint responses by the relevant Executive Director and/or Service Director will similarly enhance corporate visibility and provide a further opportunity for Directors to monitor their Directorate performance. It is hoped this will result in a reduction of complaints progressing to Stage 3. A Stage 2 Response from an Executive Director/Service Director will also provide an opportunity for genuine consideration of a financial offer at Stage 2 and mean that those who have the most relevant knowledge in that particular area are responding to the complaint. All Stage 2 responses will be shown to the Chief Executive for oversight and consideration of whether the Council Leader needs to be briefed at that point. 

  1. For Single Points of Contact (SPOCs) to sit within each Service to which the complaint relates.

A SPOC is a named officer or team within the service being complained of, who read the complainant's correspondence, in order to ensure appropriate action is taken. Where the complaint concerns two or more services, it is for services to determine the Lead service. Where the complainant is unreasonable or unreasonably persistent such that they have been referred to the Clients of Concern Register, the SPOC will be appointed by the Corporate Health and Safety Team with appropriate training provided. The Responsible Person (RP) on duty (the Head of Service/Service Lead or their nominated representative) will attend any such clients who visit the council offices with the appointed SPOC. 

It is proposed that a Health and Safety appointed SPOC will act if a decision has been made to add the complainant to the Council's Clients of Concern List. In these circumstances, the RP on duty will be notified and asked to attend reception with the SPOC should a customer on the Clients of Concern List attend any council offices. An escalating approach which could be used across the council is set out within the draft procedure.

  1. All SPOCs and RPs to be provided with corporate training in Customer Service: Communication Skills, and Mental Health Awareness training.

You can read the Icon for pdf Draft Corporate Complaints Policy [70KB] and Icon for pdf Draft Dealing with Unreasonable and Unreasonably Persistent Complainants Procedure [63KB] here.

The proposed procedure would be as follows:

Stage 1 complaints

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Strategy and Governance Department to log all complaints

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Head of Service/Service Lead to draft the stage 1 of complaint and provide the final response to Legal Services so that there is a central record

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If the complainant is not satisfied with the stage 1 complaint response, the complaint progresses to stage 2

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Stage 2 complaints

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Executive Directors/Service Directors or their nominated representative to process response within the relevant Directorate

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If the complainant is not satisfied with the stage 2 complaint response, the complaint progresses to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO)

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Independent review by the LGSCO

 


Why we want your views

We'd like your views on our draft policy, and if the documents are clear, easy to understand.

We'd also like to know about your experience raising complaints with the council; if you've encountered any problems and, if you raised concerns, were they addressed.

We'll also be gathering the views and experiences of West Berkshire Council staff.


How to take part

If you'd like to comment on our draft complaints policy and procedures, please complete our survey by 5pm on Wednesday, 13 December 2023. It should take about 5 minutes.

If you have any questions about the consultation, please email complaints@westberks.gov.uk

To report a problem or find out about making a complaint, please visit our pages.


What happens next

All the feedback we receive will considered, analysed and used to develop the final policy, which will be included in a report submitted to elected members at an Executive meeting in early 2024.

Once approved, the final policy will be published on our Strategies, Policies and Plans and About Making a Complaint webpages.

 


 

NB: Please allow enough time to complete the online survey. There is no 'save and continue' button, however, if you use the same device and web browser you started completing the survey with, you can pick up where you left off and/or edit your response until the survey closes. This is because a cookie is stored in your browser that remembers your survey response. Please note, responses are saved and submitted 'page by page' when you click the 'Next' or 'Done' button at the bottom of each page; they don't automatically save as each question is answered. If more than one person in your household wishes to complete the online survey, they must use a different device and/or browser.

 

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