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Issue:- Thursday, 01 September 2016

Headlines and reports on this page = 3 news items.    Page - 7.

Ombudsman upholding more complaints about local government in England

COMPLAINTS statistics for every local authority in the North West region have been issued as part of the Local Government Ombudsman's (LGO) annual review, revealing a 5% increase in the number of complaints it upholds.

Released as part of a drive to increase transparency in local government, the Annual Review of Local Government Complaints shows that for England as a whole, the LGO upheld 51% of detailed investigations in 2015/16, thats up from 46% the previous year.

The LGO received 19,702 complaints and enquiries about local authorities for the year ending 31 March 2016, which is a similar level to the previous year.

It saw a 13% increase in complaints and enquiries about education and children's services. It was most likely to find fault in complaints about Benefits and Tax (64%), and least likely to find fault in complaints about highways and transport (40%).

The Annual Review publishes a new dataset about LGO's recommendations to put things right, which demonstrate the impact of LGO investigations. Across the England, it made 3,529 recommendations to remedy injustice in total

These remedies include 633 recommendations to prevent injustice for the wider public, such as through procedural changes and local authority staff training. There were also 255 investigations where the LGO agreed the local authority had satisfactorily remedied the injustice before the LGO became involved in the complaint.

The Ombudsman has also published its annual letters to Councils on its website, detailing how the individual authority has responded to LGO enquiries and resolved any complaints to the LGO.

Dr Jane Martin, Local Government Ombudsman, said:- "While the number of complaints we receive is relatively small in comparison to the thousands of daily interactions between people and their Councils, each complaint represents a problem that could not be resolved locally. I am pleased to provide more information this year about how complaints are decided and remedied. This demonstrates the impact our recommendations have for both the individual and the wider public, but also acknowledges where we agreed the local authority had remedied the complaint satisfactorily before it came to us. On the other hand, we upheld a higher proportion of detailed investigations, which may be a cause for concern if the trend continues."

The Annual Review of Local Government Complaints publishes the complaint statistics of the Local Government Ombudsman, for its local government jurisdiction, for the year ending 31 March 2016. This incorporates complaints and enquiries registered against local authorities as well as other local bodies that fall under the LGO's jurisdiction. These include national park authorities, school admission appeal panels, fire authorities, transport authorities, Police and crime commissioners, and some other government organisations.

The LGO also looks at complaints about independent social care providers. This includes complaints from people 'self funding' their care without any involvement by the Council. Data for independent care providers are not included in this report, but are incorporated in the LGO's annual review of social care complaints, published in the autumn.

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