Ombudsman urges Scarborough Council to consider how complaints are prioritised

Fewer than half of the complaints lodged against Scarborough Council that were investigated by a local government ombudsman were upheld last year.

By Anttoni James Numminen, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Wednesday, 27th July 2022, 3:26 pm

According to a newly published report by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, 43 per cent of cases that it investigated relating to Scarborough Council were upheld.

However, Scarborough Council complied with 100 per cent of the cases where the ombudsman made a recommendation.

The ombudsman, Michael King, wrote to the council’s chief executive to highlight the importance of “providing valuable insight about an organisation’s performance, detecting early warning signs of problems and offering opportunities to improve service delivery”.

The graphic shows some of the complaints made about Scarborough Council to the ombudsman.

He added: “I urge you to consider how your organisation prioritises complaints, particularly in terms of capacity and visibility.”

The report also reveals that in zero per cent of cases did the council seek to provide a satisfactory remedy before the complaint reached the ombudsman.

This compares to an average of 20% in similar organisations, according to the data.

Overall, the three cases that were upheld by the watchdog from April 2021 to March 2022 relate to complaints about Covid-19, private housing, and the sale of land.

A summary of one of the upheld complaints states: “Mr X complained that the council wrongly sold land belonging to his parent's estate and then caused delays transferring the land back.”

According to the ombudsman, the delays held up the sale of the house and meant “Mr X” had to pay more council tax.

“The council admitted fault for its error in transferring Mr X's parent's land to a housing association.

"It agreed to provide an improved remedy.

"We did not find the council at fault for delays transferring the land back to Mr X.”

In comparison, 50 per cent of complaints concerning Harrogate Council were upheld, but only two complaints were investigated that year, whereas seven complaints were investigated concerning Scarborough Council.

Meanwhile, 63 per cent of the 15 investigated complaints against North Yorkshire County Council were upheld.

Overall, the Yorkshire and Humber region had the joint highest proportion of its complaints regarding benefits and taxation at 10 per cent compared with an England-wide average of eight per cent.

It also had the joint lowest "uphold rate" for this category at 44 per cent, compared with 59 per cent across the country.