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Agenda item

Agenda item

Have Your Say (4Cs) Annual Update

To consider the annual update to provide assurance that complaints are managed effectively.


51.1          Attention was drawn to the report of the Head of Corporate Services, circulated at Pages No. 31-52, which provided a summary of compliments, comments, concerns and complaints received during 2021/22.  Members were asked to consider the annual update.

51.2          The Corporate Services Manager advised that compliments, comments, concerns and complaints (the 4Cs) made up the Have Your Say approach which had been approved by the Executive Committee in March 2021.  The 4Cs framework was built on the Council’s digital platform, Liberty Create, which helped Officers to gain a clear understanding of the compliments, comments, concerns and complaints in their service areas.  It also allowed the Corporate Services Officer to produce more detailed reports and Appendix 1 to the report attached the first annual report using the new framework.  In terms of highlights, there had been an increase of 56.25% in the number of compliments received during 2021/22 compared to the previous year which was largely because there was more clarity around how customers could report them.  It was noted that 172 concerns had been submitted which had a direct impact on the number of formal complaints with a 61% reduction in complaints relating to waste and recycling.  Customers were now also able to submit comments and examples ranged from Section 106 enquiries to change of circumstances for Council Tax payments.  In terms of formal complaints, there had been a reduction of 41 compared to 2020/21 and a breakdown of the nature of complaints and how many had been answered within the 20 working day timescale was set out within the report.  It was planned to deliver further training for relevant Officers around responding to complaints and the importance of responding on time.

51.3          A Member indicated that Councillors often received complaints from residents and he was particularly concerned about the number of complaints he had received in relation to residents not being able to contact Planning Officers by telephone.  In response, the Corporate Services Manager encouraged Members to advise herself or the Head of Corporate Services if residents were experiencing difficulties so they could investigate.  She indicated that a number of compliments had been received for the Planning department so some people were having a good experience but she accepted there was still a lot more work to be done.  A Member indicated that she had always received a prompt response from the Officers within the Planning department; if her original call could not be answered she had always received a call back within the hour and had been directed to someone else who could help if a particular Officer was on leave.  The Head of Corporate Services understood the concerns regarding Planning and the issues within the service had been acknowledged through the Development Services review that was now 12 months in.  A lot of work was being done behind the scenes and there had been difficulties in relation to agency staff which had stalled certain elements but the review had the full backing of the Chief Executive and the Head of Corporate Services was confident it would deliver.  He urged Members to be patient but recognised the importance of getting the fundamentals right and he was sure the Corporate Services Manager would pick up the points raised regarding the telephones as a matter of urgency.

51.4          A Member was interested to see a spike in the number of comments received in relation to revenues and benefits, as set out at Page No. 40 of the report, and he asked if there was a specific reason for this.  In response, the Corporate Services Manager explained that it was likely a reflection of the amount of customer contact as anything which went through the Revenues and Benefits team was logged as a comment including emails etc.  The Member drew attention to Page No. 45 of the report and the number of stage one complaints answered within 20 working days and he asked if it was possible to have this as a percentage rather than the number of complaints as that made it easier for comparison year on year.  The Corporate Services Manager undertook to ensure this was included going forward.  The Member noted that there had been a 21% reduction in the number of complaints being responded to on time and he asked why this was the case.  The Corporate Services Manager advised that the system notified staff when complaints were coming to the end of their deadline for response so it was felt this was a training issue hence the session which would be delivered by the Corporate Director in November.

51.5          A Member asked if it was possible for third parties to log the 4Cs as Members were often contacted directly by residents.  The Corporate Services Manager confirmed that Members could already use the system to log comments with an option to choose whether a response was needed and she undertook to circulate a Member Update setting out how to do this.  Another Member drew attention to Page No. 39 of the report and asked what the compliment received by the licensing service was in relation to as she was aware there had been some structural changes within the team and a backlog of work in certain areas.  In response, the Corporate Services Manager advised that the specific compliment was in relation to taxi licensing and she undertook to make this clear going forward.  The Member thanked the Officers for the report which she found very easy to read and understand.

51.6          A Member drew attention to Page No. 44 of the report which referenced two stage one complainants receiving a total of £948.50 in financial remedy, and Page No. 46 of the report which stated that three stage two complainants were offered a one-off payment totalling £1,150, and she sought assurance that appropriate procedures had now been put in place for the issues raised to ensure this did not happen again.  The Corporate Services Manager confirmed that, in cases where the Council had been required to make a payment, there would be lessons to be learnt and she provided assurance they would be implemented accordingly.  The Head of Corporate Services advised there was a requirement for the Internal Audit team to undertake a sample check to ensure lessons learnt had been implemented with the results reported to the Audit and Governance Committee.

51.7          A Member pointed out that Pages No. 47 and 48 of the report referenced 2020/21 and he asked if this was a typographical error.  The Corporate Services Manager confirmed it should read 2021/22.  The Member went on to draw attention to Page No. 52 of the report which provided the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman’s letter and showed that 67% of complaints investigated in relation to Tewkesbury Borough Council had been upheld compared to an average of 51% in similar organisations and he asked if this was something Officers were concerned by.  In response, the Corporate Services Manager confirmed that two of three complaints investigated had been upheld which was a very low number, particularly compared to others, so it was no cause for concern.

51.8          It was

RESOLVED           That the Have Your Say (4Cs) annual update be NOTED.

Supporting documents: