Bradford Council has been slammed by the Local Government Ombudsman for showing a “lack of commitment” in dealing with some complaints.
Writing to Chief Executive of the Council Kersten England, Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, criticised the authority for failing to deal with a complaint – saying he takes the issue “very seriously”.
If people have a complaint about a local authority, they are able to ask a Local Government Ombudsman to investigate.
The annual report into investigations into Bradford Council over the past year has just been published.
In the year ending 31st March 2022, there were 30 upheld complaints.
Each upheld complaint led to a recommendation by the Ombudsman, and all but one of these recommendations were carried out by the Council – this one relating to children’s services.
The letter does not mention which complaint this was, but in this period one complaint made in 2021 related to the actions of the Children’s Services.
By May, the complaint had still not been properly dealt with.
The Ombudsman recommended the Council pay the complainant, only referred to as Mr X, £100.
In his annual letter to the Council, Mr King said: “I am pleased to note we recorded our satisfaction with your Council’s compliance in most of the cases where we made a recommendation to remedy a complaint.
“However, I am very concerned to note there was one children’s services case where our recommendations were not complied with.
“I take any failure to comply with agreed recommendations very seriously as it demonstrates a lack of commitment to putting things right and learning from complaints.
“You failed to take the action you had agreed to, resulting in a new complaint being registered for non-compliance.
“It is disappointing this proved necessary and both our organisations have been put to additional time, trouble and resource in trying to resolve the matter.
“During the year, my investigators have noted several instances where your Council has taken too long to respond to our enquiries, and cases where the information provided was not what we requested or was inadequate.
“In some cases, this is despite us agreeing to requests for further time to respond.
“These avoidable delays mean complainants wait longer than necessary to see their concerns responded to. I would ask you to address my concerns with the relevant officers and set out what steps you will be taking to improve.”
A spokesperson for Bradford Council said: “We are pleased to see that the Ombudsman has stated that they are satisfied with our Council’s compliance in most of the cases where a recommendation to remedy a complaint was made.
“We apologise for the way we dealt with one complaint in particular, and for delays in responding to others.
“We work hard to make improvements whenever they are identified.
“The Ombudsman makes the point that over the last few years local authorities’ resources have been squeezed and therefore having the right level of resource to respond to complaints has been challenging. We want to make sure we have the right level of resource and training in place to process complaints without delay in the future.”