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Complaints data for every local authority in the North West area now available at click of a button

FOR the 1st time, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman's annual complaints details about every Council in the North West are now available in an easy to use interactive map. Every year the Ombudsman writes to each authority with details of the complaints and enquiries it has received, and the decisions it has made about those complaints it has investigated. These annual letters are published on the Ombudsman's website every July.

Alongside the annual letters, the Ombudsman has created the innovative map which gives people the chance to see how their local authority is performing at the click of a button. The new map collates the annual letters, how often the authority has complied with Ombudsman recommendations, the improvements they have agreed to implement to improve services potentially for thousands, and published decisions all in 1 place. The map will be updated every time a new investigation is published about an authority.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said:- "We were the 1st Ombudsman scheme in the UK to publish every decision we made on our website, and we're now the 1st to put all that data and more, at everyone's fingertips via our interactive map. The searchable map will include all the data we hold on every local authority in England. All too often conversations about complaints focus on raw numbers. We believe it's the outcomes of these; service changes that make things better for many people in the area; that can really make the difference. We hope this new tool, showing the real world improvements made and the lessons that can be shared, will allow Council officers the opportunity to learn from complaints, Councillors to scrutinise complaints and decisions about their authorities, and local residents to hold their local authorities to account."

Data from this year's statistics show in the North West area:-

► 12% of all cases received were about this Region.

► 60% of cases investigated were upheld.

► Most complaints received were about Children and Education Services (22%)

► Fewest complaints about Housing (4%)

► Lowest proportion of Housing cases received nationwide

► Highest uphold rate; in this area was for Benefits and Taxation (81%) (In 2018, in this Region, the highest uphold rate was in Adult Social care, at 70% this year the uphold rate in this area was 68%)

► Lowest uphold rate in this area was in Planning (37%) (in 2018 the lowest uphold rate was in Highways and Transportation with 39% of investigations upheld, this year upheld complaints have risen to 56%)

► Highest uphold rate nationally in Benefits and Taxation nationally (81%) and Corporate and Other (64%)

► Nationally, the Ombudsman registered 16,899 complaints and enquiries about local authorities in 2018 to 2019. The service completed 4,232 detailed investigations, and upheld 58% of those investigations, up slightly on 57% the previous year.

► More than a of the complaints and enquiries received were about:- children's and education services, and adult social care. And in both these areas the Ombudsman upheld 2 ⅓s (66%) of the complaints it investigated.

When the Ombudsman has upheld an investigation, it always makes recommendations to Councils about how they can put things right for the individual, in 2019 the Ombudsman made 3,525 of these kind of recommendations.

Ombudsman investigations can also lead to positive changes for many more than those originally affected. These changes can include redrafting policies and procedures, or conducting wholescale reviews of services. The Ombudsman recommended 1,450 service improvements in 2018 to 19, which have the potential to benefit tens of thousands of other people across the country.

Over the period, Councils accepted and put in place Ombudsman recommendations in 99.4% of cases, demonstrating that the sector recognises and is willing to put things right when they go wrong.

North West children will rarely swim this summer

TO celebrate the re-launch of:- 'Fruity Water,' Capri Sun have partnered with Better to commission a deep dive survey into kids' swimming abilities across the UK. The survey reveals almost ½ of UK children under 10 are either unable to swim or afraid in the water (43%), with the perceived expense of swimming lessons voted the main obstacle preventing children from learning to swim (21%).

As revealed by the survey:-

► 62% of UK parents admit their children would benefit from more active play such as swimming, but more than a quarter of UK families can never find the time to visit their local swimming pool (26%).

► As the UK School summer holidays approach, children are more than twice as likely to spend their time engaged in screen based activities (58%) - such as playing on the iPad, scrolling on social media, or playing video games; than getting involved in sporting activities (23%).

► Technological abilities exceed vital active skills amongst younger generations, with children aged 5 to 15 more likely to know how to use an iPad (83%) than how to swim with confidence (68%).

As well as getting active, staying hydrated is an essential part of keeping children healthy, yet 33% of parents admit they struggle to get their children to drink water regularly because they want to drink something more exciting than plain water, or do not like the taste (19%). Capri Sun's Fruity Water is a water based drink made with 96% water plus fruit juice. It contains no added sugar, artificial colours or preservatives. The product comes in all new transparent pouch packaging, with 2 flavours in the range:- Lemon and Lime along with Peach and Apricot, offering parents a guilt free solution that is sure to keep their children hydrated while putting a smile on their faces too.

In partnership with GB Paralympic quintuple gold medal swimmer, Ellie Simmonds OBE, Capri Sun and Better are on a mission to make learning to swim fun, exciting and accessible for everyone, at an affordable price for parents. With their nation wide:- 'Learn to Swim' programme, Better is the largest provider of swimming lessons, with affordable lessons averaging just ₤5 a week at over 100 swimming facilities across the UK.

To help UK families make the plunge into a more active lifestyle and find quality time to spend together, Capri Sun and Better will run a programme of activities, culminating in the chance for parents to win exclusive swimming prizes through purchasing redeemable Fruity Water packs at selected retailers, available starting January 2020. Parents will get the opportunity to win a range of prizes including discounted swimming lessons offered at Better facilities across over 100 indoor swimming pools throughout the UK.

As stated by Simon Harrison, Capri Sun spokesperson and VP Commercial Development at CCEP, "Swimming is a vital life skill that should be made accessible for everyone, and that's why Capri Sun are on a mission with Better to equip the nation's children with the skills they need to swim. We know parents are under the spotlight when it comes to how they look after their children's health. In re-launching Fruity Water, we aim to offer parents an easy, guilt free choice, that not only brings joy to their children, but also helps to keep them hydrated too. We have always encouraged moments of carefree, family fun alongside an active lifestyle, so we are very excited to be partnering with Better as part of our Fruity Water launch, so we can help families across the UK embrace active, playful moments."

Donna Wardell, Brand Manager at Better comments:- "We are delighted to collaborate with Capri Sun to offer UK families the opportunity to get their little ones to spend time in the water in a safe environment with qualified professionals. Capri Sun shares our belief that swimming is an essential skill that should be made accessible to all; and that it should be fun, exciting, and affordable for families in the process. Our partnership with Capri Sun could not be more fitting for these reasons.''

Ellie Simmonds OBE, GB Paralympic quintuple gold medal swimmer, adds:- ''I'm beyond excited to partner with Capri Sun and Better to reinforce the importance of swimming particularly amongst children. I am always eager to share my experience and tips to facilitate the learning process and reassure everyone that swimming is not only a vital skill but also an empowering and fun physical activity. I hope to inspire families to get in the water and enjoy their time together this summer and beyond.''

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