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Ombudsman encouraged by Liverpool’s response to complaints review

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The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) has welcomed Liverpool City Council’s approach to, and progress on, overhauling and improving the way it handles complaints.

The Ombudsman was invited to carry out a full review of the council’s complaint handling procedures, as part of a raft of reviews prompted by government-appointed commissioners brought in to oversee the council’s performance.

Twelve months on from its report, the Ombudsman has been encouraged by the progress the council has made.

The Ombudsman’s review included a number of recommendations on how the council could improve. The recommendations were focused on streamlining multiple complaint processes to give people complaining a consistent experience, bringing more senior oversight of complaints and developing a way to ensure the council uses complaints to improve.

The council has developed a plan to respond to the recommendations. Actions progressed so far include work to bring three separate complaints teams together, training its staff and embedding complaints data into regular management reporting.

The Ombudsman has just published its latest annual complaints statistics for all councils. Data from it backs up the positive way Liverpool has approached the Ombudsman’s review.

In quarter of cases the Ombudsman upheld, the Ombudsman agreed with the remedy the council had proposed to put things right when first responding to the complaint. This compares with an average of 10% for similar councils.

Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, Paul Najsarek, said: “I am pleased with the way Liverpool responded to our review, giving us open access to its systems and staff. While we heard that good complaint handling was often down to individuals taking the initiative rather than a wholescale approach, the council did demonstrate a willingness and ability to change.

“It is encouraging to hear the progress the council has made when considering and implementing many of the recommendations in last year’s review.

“I now look forward to the council maintaining this momentum and pushing ahead with its improvement journey. Wholescale change such as that which Liverpool has pledged to undertake needs time to bed in to ensure it endures beyond the initial improvements the council has made.”

Council Leader, Cllr Liam Robinson, said: “I am really delighted with the positive feedback we have had from the Local Government Ombudsman.

“As part of our improvement journey, we are committed to being an open and transparent organisations, accountable for our actions.

“We know a consistent, high quality approach to complaint handling is crucial to improving trust amongst residents. We are a large and complex organisation and will not get everything right, but we are determined to learn from our mistakes, put things right and put in place measures to prevent them happening again.

“We are committed to continuous improvement and learning, which is why we invited the LGO to work with us.”

Liverpool Waterfront