John Findlay - Service Manager (Business & Customer Support People) presented the report to the Committee and shared the following information -
· There were 282 complaints during 2020/2021 – an increase of 6% on the previous year.
· The number of processed and closed cases decreased by 12% during 2020/2021
· There was a 30% increase in the number of digitally created cases
In relation to the reason for complaints the following information was provided -
· Communication - 63%
· Protection of abusers - 14%
· Service Standards – 13%
The Committee noted that communication was the top reason for complaints within Warwickshire County Council. IT was confirmed that there is a new Team Leader (Louise Churchill) for complaints working on how complaints are received and why they are received. There has been an increase in all complaints during the pandemic.
Following a question in relation to the nature of complaints received and any trends identified, it was confirmed that it can be incredibly complicated; the process can take time to unpick and fully understand the true nature of the complaint.
The Committee raised concerns that the top reason for complaints is communication and asked if there is a further breakdown of reasons why communication is. The Committee asked if there was a point in the complaints process where the service user could opt to inform their local elected member? John Findlay confirmed that there is no option at present but that he would be taking all suggestions on board.
The Committee acknowledged that the council is looking to replace the current customer relations system and that a new complaints recording system would be part of this. The new system would provide interactive solutions along with a history of all interactions, across services, with the customer and then be able to offer a better solution. The hope is that this will allow Warwickshire County Council to get much better at providing answers and solutions, quickly to customers who are aware of what is happening to them from the service. The system will allow customers to access the status of their enquiry/complaint etc.
Following a question from the Chair in relation to officers working from home during the pandemic potentially causing the spike in complaints, it was confirmed by Nigel Minns, Strategic Director – Peoples Directorate that across the Children and Families Service there had been limited, if any, working from home for officers. There had been an impact on response times due to a change in the targets but this is not as a result of working from home. The Committee was asked to note that the number of complaints is relatively small when you look at the number of children and families that officers are working with.