Agenda item

Customer Strategy Complaints Policy


1.         Cabinet agreed the proposed Complaints Policy as described in this report and annexed as appendix 1.


2.         Cabinet delegated authority to the Strategic Director (People and Transformation) to make any further changes to the policy following feedback from the Overview and Scrutiny Committees.




1.    Cabinet agreed the proposed Complaints Policy as described in this report and annexed as appendix 1.


2.    Cabinet delegated authority to the Strategic Director (People and Transformation) to make any further changes to the policy following feedback from the Overview and Scrutiny Committees.


Corporate Priorities


Ensuring efficient, effective and modern service delivery.


Statutory Officer Comments:


Monitoring Officer:


The revised policy provides an appropriate framework to ensure that Customer Complaints are responded to in a timely manner at an appropriate level within the organisation. This should help to ensure the resolution of complaints and minimise further complaints to the Local Government Ombudsman.


S151 Officer:


The proposed complaint policy changes are not expected to have a financial impact on the Council, but they form a part of the wider customer strategy changes that are expected to deliver £200k of efficiencies as part of the current Medium Term Financial Strategy.




Cllr Elliot introduced the report and welcomed any questions.


Cllr Banks expressed appreciation for the paper but expressed some concern that the policy contains only links to submit complaints via website and email, it does not include ‘if you would like to write to us’ detail?


AWilkie responded and advised they have received some similar feedback so are already looking at inserting an address to add to our approach.


Cllr Tindall queried his presumption that the policy applies to our corporate partners, where we engage them to deliver services on our behalf and queried, in that case, is there any distinct note or obligation that any complaint that goes to contractor first is automatically referred to Council and included in the process?


AWilkie responded that we work with a variety of partners and have spoken to them about how we can ensure there is swift communication around that, highlighting that it is the beauty of this approach as it is more rigorous to the performance of contractors, allowing us to identify where there are delays in this process and to then tackle those areas.


Cllr Tindall noted he didn’t see anything specific about the obligation for contractors to refer those complaints to us to log in our system.


Cllr Williams commented that if you have a policy that instructed partners to report those matters to Council it would need to be in the contract.  If a customer complained directly to the contractor and they resolved that, there would be no need to refer it to us.


Cllr Tindall expressed he feels there is a gap to be closed.


AWilkie confirmed this would be a contractual issue and this policy would not be the correct place to resolve that, but what we are doing is speaking with contractors so we are aware earlier of potential issues and creating a log of conversation so that we already have that information if a complaint crosses our desks.  That plus a greater understanding of the data and what the accumulation of complaints is telling us will allow us to tackle that.  If there is an issue highlighted with a particular contractor we can review that.


Cllr Tindall suggested that from now moving forward any new contract has a point to pick this up, so that all contractors are subject to this policy.


Cllr Williams advised that would be a change to Council policy.


Cllr Tindall stressed he would like to see the Council address contractor complaints correctly and bring contractors in line with the Council’s policies. 


Cllr Griffiths commented that no matter where the complaint is received, be that Council or contractor, it is important that the person receiving that takes ownership and gets it resolved, it is a service that is being delivered through DBC and therefore we take responsibly for that complaint if it comes in to our offices.  In regards to complaints going in to the contractor delivering work for us, which should be reviewed as part of the contract management, it should form part of that management that data is seen on a monthly basis and integrated.


Cllr Tindall requested that a review of contracts is carried out to ensure that the approach aligns with this policy.


CHamilton suggested there are opportunities to build the new approach to complaints into future contracts, in terms of it being a manageable task, and we could review some of our key tasks around areas such as leisure, as part of the implementation of the complaints policy we can ensure that interface is right and working correctly.  However it is not in our capacity to review all contracts immediately.  Responsibility should be on the contractor to manage complaints appropriately and report back to us as part of contract management.


Cllr Williams confirmed that he would not want to revisit contracts that are not up for renewal and renegotiate, not practical.


Cllr Douris advised this policy came to Finance & Resources Overview & Scrutiny (OSC) last week where he raised a point around receipt and response; not aware any change has been made to the policy in response to that.  Cllr Douris expressed concern about potential mismatch for receipt of complaints made online which is immediate response and those made by letter.  Suggested that perhaps in a years’ time when the policy comes for review to see how it working, perhaps it could be forward planned to look at the mismatch then?


AWilkie confirmed the point was logged as OSC, but the submission of this report predated the comments at scrutiny, hence in not being reflected this evening.  He advised will review after a couple of months of operation and if this does appear to be an issue, there will be a need to come up with a revised approach to deal with that point.

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