West Midlands council complaints near 500 in a year

Nearly 500 complaints were made about councils in the West Midlands in a year, new figures reveal.

West Midlands council complaints near 500 in a year

The number in the Black Country, Staffordshire and Wyre Forest has fallen from 551 in 2013/14 to 471 in 2014/15, mirroring the trend across the country, where it dropped from 18,211 to 18,436.

But the Ombudsman saw a 10 per cent increase in complaints about adult care services.

Meanwhile, complaints about benefits and tax dropped 11 per cent, and complaints about planning and development were down six per cent.

Of the 10 councils in the Black Country and Staffordshire areas, the ombudsman received the most complaints and enquiries regarding Sandwell Council. Of the 118 received, 19 were upheld, with 59 referred back for local resolution. The majority related to benefits and tax (33 complaints), with 24 regarding education and children's services, 21 about housing, and 15 about adult care services. There had been 138 complaints the previous year.

Staffordshire County Council was the subject of 106 complaints and enquiries, compared to 114 the year before. There were 19 upheld, with the majority relating to adult care services and education and children's services (40 each), and highways and transport with 19.

In Wolverhampton, the city council had 70 ombudsman complaints and enquiries, which was 26 lower than the year before. It included eight which were upheld, with 29 referred back for local resolution. Of the complaints, 26 related to education and children's services, with adult care services and housing the subjects of 12 complaints each, and 11 relating to environmental services, public protection and planning.

Dudley Council had 83 complaints or enquiries - a drop of four - with three upheld and 38 referred back, while Walsall had 58 in total of which five were upheld and 28 referred back for local resolution.

Cannock Chase Council had the least complaints, with all eight made referred back for local resolution.

South Staffordshire had 15 in total, with four upheld, Stafford Borough received 10 in total, with none upheld, and Wyre Forest council had three in total, including one upheld.

Sandwell Council leader Councillor Darren Cooper said: "I believe that the increased number of complaints is a reflection, in part, of the reductions in services brought about by the effects of Government cutbacks on councils as residents are now complaining about the level of service they receive.

"The council actively encourages people to make their views known at a series of special Help4U road shows in all the six Sandwell towns where dissatisfied people are given information on the procedures to enable them to make their views known.

"This customer feedback is an important part of our quest to continuously improve, where we can, our access to the council and the services to the people of Sandwell.

"However it is important to point out that in Sandwell the number of complaints to the Ombudsman has reduced to 118 from the 147 recorded last year.

"We can only agree with the comments of the Ombudsman that the complaints process should be accessible and that developing an open culture is a good value way of driving service improvement because that is exactly what we are trying to achieve in Sandwell."

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