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Letter: There Is Something Wrong With Our Complaints Systems

Published on: 24 Mar, 2022
Updated on: 24 Mar, 2022
From: Jim Allen

There is a general problem with complaint systems in this country.

I believe that if something occurs that is legally, morally, technically or ethically wrong, then someone should complain to ensure it does not happen again.

When a subsequent outcome of the complaint is incorrect then either the process was not correctly followed, or the process, and the policy behind it, were wrong.

In the 2020-2021 Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman report it says: “The ‘widening cracks’ in local government complaint handling are being highlighted in the … annual review of complaints 2020-2021.

“Over the past year, the Ombudsman has upheld a greater proportion of investigations [into complaints referred to him] – 67 per cent – than ever before. This continues an upward trend since the Ombudsman started publishing its uphold rate.”

And the ombudsman Michael King, said: “I am concerned about the general erosion to the visibility, capacity, and status of complaint functions within councils. These concerns are not new and cannot be wholly attributed to the trials of the pandemic.”

Part of the problem is that the Nolan principles of openness and accountability seem to go by the board.

Our complaints systems have many failings, not least the inability for those dealing with the complaint to understand that, in the main, people only complain when they feel they have a genuine grievance.

But the complainants end up feeling as if they are fighting a secretive and constantly repetitive response process going through the various levels of complaints systems that seem designed to dissuade and to protect those in power rather than fairly adjudicate and redress wrongs.

There is a serious problem and it needs fixing.

 

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test One Response to Letter: There Is Something Wrong With Our Complaints Systems

  1. Jules Cranwell Reply

    March 25, 2022 at 5:59 am

    This precisely echoes my experience with the complaints system at GBC. At no time did I feel my complaint about a serious breach of the councillors’s code of conduct was being taken seriously. It was a complete whitewash.

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