Agenda item

Policy Review; Compliments, Comments and Complaints and Unacceptable Actions by Complainants


The Leader to present the report to Cabinet.


The Council had a clear policy in place that explained how it managed feedback from residents for a number of years. There were a number of recent changes to key legislation that affected the council listened and learned from residents.


The primary driver for the amendments was to reflect the Public Services Ombudsman (Wales) Act 2019. In September 2020, the Ombudsman wrote to all Local Authorities and confirmed that the revised Statement of Principles, Model Complaint Handling Process, and Guidance were in full effect. The Ombudsman requested that public bodies reflected on how their practices and procedures complied with the updated guidance and how they would ensure that all complaints were captured appropriately.


The key changes to the policy included

           Changes to the reporting and monitoring arrangements.

           Updated definitions of Roles and Responsibilities for the management of complaints.

           Increased clarity on the arrangements for managing complaints regarding partners and service providers commissioned by the Council to provide services.


           Increased signposting to advocacy and support services.


The updated reporting and monitoring arrangements also reflected the requirements of the Local Governance and Elections (Wales) Act 2021 which came into effect on 1 April 2021. The statutory function of the new Governance and Audit Committee’s included reviewing and assessing the Council’s ability to handle complaints effectively, and to report on and make recommendations in this respect.


In addition to the Ombudsman’s requirements, there was other changes to legislation that concerned complaints handling which were reflected in the updated policy. These included:


         The Regulated Fostering Services (Services Providers and Responsible Individuals) (Wales) Regulations 2019

         RISCA (Regulation and Inspection of Social Care (Wales) Act 2016)

         Welsh Language Standards Regulations (No.7) 2018

         Challenging Bullying – Rights, respect, equality: Statutory guidance for local authorities (2019).


These changes to the policy were concerned with making it clear to residents how complaints in these specific areas were dealt with, including signposting to access further help and support.


There were also some minor changes to the policy regarding Unacceptable Actions by Complainants. Whilst the council was committed to dealing with all complaints equitably, comprehensively, and in a timely manner, the council did not expect staff to tolerate abusive, offensive or threatening behaviour.  In some cases, unreasonable behaviour could also impede the investigation of the individual’s complaint or could have significant resource issues for the council.


The policy confirmed the arrangements in place to address these issues in a confidential, fair and objective manner via a forum that met on a regular basis to review these cases and agree any appropriate action within the remit of the policy. The policy also reflected the fact that not all unacceptable behaviour was in relation to complaints.


Cabinet were asked to consider and endorse the revised Compliments, Comments and Complaints Policy, and the new Unacceptable Actions by Customers policy, to be introduced from 10 May 2021 in order to meet statutory and legislative requirements.


Comments of Cabinet Members:


Councillor Mayer mentioned that the Council were very good at handing any issues that arose and that it was very rare that complaints proceeded to the ombudsman.  Councillor Mayer added that Councillor Cockeram and along with other Cabinet Member colleagues were concerned that in the past only complaints were processed but it was a positive step forward now that members of the public could pay the council compliments.  Councillor Mayer encouraged everyone to record compliments as well as complaints in future.


Councillor Davies commended the on its openness and transparency and mentioned that there was clear signposting for members of the public to complain, particularly in relation to equalities assessment and the Future Welling and Generations Act.


Councillor Cockeram endorsed the previous comments and was pleased to see that compliments had moved up the agenda and that guidance needed to be changed to reflect this. Staff should also be encouraged to record compliments from the Chief Executive to all staff members in a better manner.


Councillor Truman echoed comments of colleagues and welcomed the new compliments format.


Councillor Rahman added that the policy gave every citizen the right to be heard and respected.  This Council was willing to listen to residents and were open and transparent.  Resources were in place now and going forward the council would learn from their mistakes and do better.



Cabinet were asked to review and endorse the proposed amendments to policies.


Supporting documents: