Cannock council housing department receives 33 formal complaints in a year

Cannock Chase Council's housing department received more complaints than any other service last year, including reports of discrimination and poor property conditions.

Cannock council
Cannock council

All housing staff went on a customer services training course - while the authority has also learned to complete all empty property repairs before handing over a home to a new tenant, an annual complaints report has said.

The council received 33 formal complaints between April 2019 and March 2020.

There were 16 complaints relating to housing, three each about environmental health, parks and open spaces, planning and taxation and benefits and one each concerning customer services, democratic services and property services. There were also two complaints about council members submitted to the Monitoring Officer.

The report said: "A proportion of the contact with customers involves difficult and sensitive issues such as taking enforcement action for non-payment of council tax/business rates and breaches of legislation.

"Three of the formal complaints received were about an elected Member(s) that required investigation; 10 of the 31 complaints received were about council officers that required investigation. There was one detailed investigation by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman in the period between April 2019 and March 2020; the complaint was not upheld.

"Key lessons from the complaints received during this period include to complete all void repairs – where possible – before handover. A tenant complained about the condition of property on handover, with further informal complaints received about the condition of properties by other tenants.

"A Void Improvement Group reviewed this and determined to improve the standard of properties being returned. Staff changes have also now been made.


"A tenant complained about not being informed of the length of time it would take to complete a job. There was a breakdown in communication between the contact centre and housing repairs; this has now been resolved and teams now have liaison meetings and systems are better updated with information.

"Another communication skills improvement was required following a tenant’s complaint that they were not treated with much respect or giving sufficient information on their waiting list position. All housing staff attended a customer services training course during Q1 2019/20."

The report was presented to members of the council’s cabinet at a meeting on Thursday.

Tony McGovern, the council’s chief executive, said: "There are 33 complaints across all categories – service, complaints about officers and complaints about members.

"It is a relatively low number of complaints but it is important we learn lessons and accept things do go wrong."

Council leader George Adamson said: "The number of complaints is relatively small when you consider the number of public contacts our staff and members have every day. Our staff put in a huge amount of work and provide an excellent amount of service

"We are all human, we all make mistakes and things do go wrong on occasion. The idea is we accept that, learn from them and try and make sure it doesn’t happen again."

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