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INCREASE IN: Complaints to council’s children and families department

INCREASE IN: Complaints to council’s children and families department

Redcar and Cleveland's council headquarters in Redcar, Image: Teesside Live

The number of complaints made to Redcar and Cleveland Council’s children and young families department went up last year, according to an annual report.

Forty eight complaints in total in relation to the care of children and young people were received by the council in 2020/21, compared to 41 during the previous 12 months, a 17% increase.

However both these figures were down on the 62 complaints logged in 2018/19.

Four of the 48 complaints were considered by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.

Three of these did not meet the criteria for investigation by the Ombudsman.

A fourth case was investigated, and “appropriate remedial action” was undertaken by the council to bring the matter to a satisfactory outcome for both parties.

The majority of the complaints related to safeguarding and children in the council’s care.

The biggest category of complaint related to alleged failure to provide a service, followed by the attitude and conduct of staff.

The report said: “Where complaints concern the attitude and conduct of staff, these can be particularly difficult to resolve.

“At times complainants disagree with the action of the local authority and these complaints require careful professional judgement to determine if staff conduct has been inappropriate, or if the action has been necessary to protect the welfare of children.

“The complaints procedure is not designed to deal with allegations of serious misconduct by staff.

“These situations are covered under a separate corporate disciplinary procedure.”

Fifty seven complaints in total were deemed ‘closed’ in 2020/21 with seven being fully upheld and 13 partially upheld by the council’s complaints process.

The report said the department was constantly improving its approach to learning from complaints.

It said: “All complaint outcomes are considered at senior management level to identify any wider learning to be shared with wider staff teams, which will help us to improve our services.

“Learning from complaints has identified some training needs and has led to a number of service improvements and changes to processes.”

The report added:  “Children, young people and their families should continue to be routinely informed about the complaints procedure and encouraged to exercise their right to complain should they be dissatisfied with the service received.

“Equally they should be encouraged to submit any comments and compliments regarding service delivery where appropriate.”

While complaints rose year-on-year, more compliments – 257 in total – were received in 2020/21 than in any of the previous five years.

The areas receiving the highest number of compliments were early help and youth services, followed by social work teams, and health visitors and school nursing.

The report said these areas had the highest ratio of frontline staff and it was anticipated therefore that they would receive the highest number of compliments.


Words: Stuart Arnold, Local Democracy Reporter

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