Most local ombudsman complaints for education and children's services

3 Aug 17

The majority of complaints made against councils in 2016/17 relate to education and childrens’ services, an annual ombudsman report has stated.

In the last financial year the local government and social care ombudsman handled more than 16,500 objections and enquiries about councils in England, it revealed in its yearly summary released yesterday.

After education and children’s services, the main area of concern for the public was adult social care and planning with 2,555 complaints (15%) and 2,336 complaints (14%), respectively.

The watchdog upheld 54% of the total grievances in 2016/17, up on 51% from the previous year and a further rise from the 46% upheld the year before that.

It also made 3,562 recommendations this year, including instructions to issue apologies, financial remedies, such as paying for care which should have been provided and procedural changes to help improve services for others.

Michael King, local government and social care ombudsman, said: “The best councils use our data to scrutinise the services they provide.

“I urge all councils to do that to make their services better in future.”

He added: “I want to encourage an open and mature attitude to complaints - one where they are valued within organisations as ‘free feedback’ and learning opportunities.”

A full list of complaints broken down by council area and area of complaint can be found here.

The region with the highest proportion of complaints upheld was London (60%), and the lowest was the East Midlands (44%).

Overall, the ombudsman was most likely to find fault in adult social care cases (64% upheld), and least likely to find fault in complaints about planning and development (35% upheld).

The ombudsman noted that a high number of complaints does not necessarily mean a council is performing poorly.

It may indicate an authority that welcomes and encourages feedback, through a transparent system which signposts people appropriately when its own processes

The number of ombudsman complaints for 2016/17 in:

Education and children’s services – 2,963

Adult social care – 2,555

Planning and development – 2,336

Benefits and tax – 2,109

Housing – 2,044

Highways and transport – 2,005

Environmental services, public protection and regulation – 1,687

Corporate and other services – 1,010

Other – 134

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