Comments, compliments and complaints procedure

Complaints performance

The current complaints handling procedure was introduced by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) and all Scottish Councils are now required to handle and report complaints in the same way and to publish the outcomes of complaints, trends and actions taken.

Complaints closed from 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2021

Resource 2017/18 2018/19 2019/20 2020/21
Community and Enterprise 209 245 279 211
Education 185 85 82 58
Finance and Corporate 213 169 148 92
Housing and Technical 249 250 220 145
Social Work 192 165 179 190
Totals 1048 914 908 696

The number of complaints closed reduced by 13% between 2017/18 and 2018/19 and reduced by a further 1% between 2018/19 and 2019/20. Between 2019/20 and 2020/21, complaints closed reduced by 23%.

You Said, We Did

When you complain, we listen and act. The following examples and learning outcomes relate to complaints received between April 2020 and March 2021:

Community and Enterprise

Customers are unhappy that there was a restriction on the number of waste streams accepted at the Household Waste and Recycling Centres (HWRCs) when they reopened. We explained that when we re-opened our HWRCs there were concerns from the police and local businesses about the potential for large queues to form on the approach roads to the sites. In line with best practice, and taking advice from our colleagues in Roads, we introduced a number of measures to reduce waiting times/increase turnaround times at the sites. These measures included enforcing a temporary ban on vans/trailers, deploying additional staff to manage queues at the sites and restricting waste types to 'priority' waste streams i.e. black bag waste, cardboard and compostable garden waste. Since the sites opened on 1 June 2020, we have gradually increased the number of waste types that can now be disposed of at our sites and are now able to accept waste electrical items, wood and laminate. We will also be accepting bulky items such as soft furnishings, carpets and mattresses from Wednesday 1 July 2020 onwards. We also permit vans to access the sites on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We will continue to review the type of wastes accepted at the site until 'business as usual' has resumed.

Customer complained that they had been unable to have their bulk garden waste uplifted and asked when the service would be reinstated? There are many other council services now operational and they find it difficult to accept that this service cannot now be operational. We explained that with the availability of resources severely impacted because of COVID-19, Waste Services must focus on maintaining statutory kerbside waste and recycling bin collections. We regularly review the services that we are able to reinstate and considered restarting the ‘on-request’ free garden waste service’ from October. However, given the volume of requests for this service significantly reduces and the growing season stops around that time, the Council has decided not to resume this service until spring 2021. The services focus on maintaining statutory kerbside waste and recycling bin collections while regularly reviewing the services that we are able to reinstate.

Our bins are out for collection on a very wet and windy morning which has led to recycling bins being blown over and rubbish strewn everywhere.  We know we get bad weather and yet the bins are very light weight and not designed for the weather. There must be someway of redesigning the bins to cope with high winds. The customer was advised that the bins are intentionally lightweight however we can provide three bin clip locks to fix to the lid of the bin which will stop anything from falling out in the event that it falls over.

Customers have been requesting food bin liners for a couple of months and have phoned and used the online form to request the bin liners but deliveries have been delayed. We subsequently delivered food waste bin liners to customers with an apology for the delay. The Waste Service’s ability to provide the liners was impacted by both a reduction in available resources as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic and a prolonged period of inclement weather. As soon as we were able, we arranged to have the food and garden waste crews deliver liners and staff from other services helped us to catch up with deliveries. Food waste bin liners are now being delivered in line with our service standards.

Education

A parent complaint regarding member of staff's attitude towards her on the telephone. Management discussed the complaint with the member of staff who was reminded of customer care standards towards customers on the telephone. Member of staff to participate in the appropriate refresher training.

Customer was unhappy her son was not receiving the 1140 hrs funding for nursery as he attends a cross boundary nursery. The Partnership Board was contacted and agreed to support the delivery of the 1140 hrs.  In future we will ensure that our policy is maintained correctly to prevent future occurrences such as this.

Parents divorced and school was only informing mother of any incidents in school, father requesting to be informed also. School put arrangements in place that father shall now be informed of any incidents.

Parent unhappy with online learning for a specific subject.  School rectified immediately once brought to their attention.

Finance and Corporate Resources - Finance Transactions

Finance Services (Transactions). Customer was unhappy that their Council Tax Single Persons Discount was cancelled in error. Additional checks were put in place between South Lanarkshire Council and Northgate to ensure Single Person Discount Reviews are checked thoroughly before they are actioned. With putting the additional checks in place regarding reviews, discounts will not be cancelled in error.

Finance Services (Transactions). Customer was unhappy that direct debit did not transfer to their new account following the liability change.  We apologised to customer and explained the process. We advised that had a hold on all the recovery action not been in place, we would have picked up on this sooner. We provided customer with assurance that had she not been able to bring account up to date, we would have extended the timescales as this was our error.  Through this complaint we have identified training needs around this process for new staff.

Licensing services. Customer was not informed at time of registration that a full certificate could be ordered and paid for. Had issues when applying for certificate online. Apologised for inconvenience and reminded staff to check if full certificate required at time of registration and to deal with phone enquiries rather than direct online depending on level of business. We will continue to support staff through pandemic ensuring that customers are provided with the correct information.

Finance Services (Transactions). Customer was unhappy with timescale to process refunds. We have recently reviewed our procedures for refunds as many of our customers are changing their working practises due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Previously, refunds were paid by cheque however we are in the process of setting up a new procedure that will allow customers to request refunds by BACS payment to a nominated bank account. The timescale for processing refunds will be reduced, therefore customer will receive refund quicker.

Finance Services (Transactions). Customer raised complaint as unhappy that Council Tax discount was not processed in time and applied to account which resulted in account going into arrears.  Investigated and identified a training issue. Resolved issue to customer satisfaction. Training identified rolled out to team to prevent a similar issue in future.

Housing and Property Services

A customer was unhappy as on several occasions they had contacted repairs team and had no return contact. Customer has been contacted and we have apologised that no one contacted him. Staff have been reminded of Customer Care Standards

Customer was unhappy as they had received no response to telephone call or e-mails. Staff reminded of customer care standards and the need to diary work tasks to ensure completion.  We continue to monitor complaints through service/management reports and regular meetings of complaint groups.

Customer unhappy with communication issues with Housing Office. Staff reminded of customer care standards in relation to returning phone calls. We continue to monitor complaints through service and management reports and regular meetings of complaint groups.

Customer unhappy as he was not advised of the start date for Controlled Entry System update. All residents lettered to advise of Controlled Door Entry System Update. Residents will be lettered to advise of any works/updates being carried out.

Social Work Resources

A customer was unhappy with incorrect information provided regarding funding. We apologised for the incorrect information being provided. The correct process was provided and interim measures put in place. The correct process was highlighted to employees to ensure correct procedures are followed.

A customer was unhappy with a lack of communication with their allocated worker and the hospital discharge team. Family were not notified of change in care provider and times. We apologised and arranged a meeting to agree the way forward. Communication with family will improve as direct communication links have now been established and will help to avoid future occurrences of this type of situation.

Failure to deliver a service and breakdown of communication. An apology was given to the family, a new assessment was carried out and support is now in place. We have learned from the experience, and procedures have been updated and discussed at the team meeting.

Delay in getting assessment completed and level of communication received. Apology given to family and an assessment of need was arranged. The importance of communication was highlighted, and staff were reminded of appropriate timescales for assessments to be completed.