Complaints against Sunderland City Council drop by 47% in a year

Complaints about Sunderland City Council have almost halved over the last year, according to new data.

Tuesday, 18th June 2019, 3:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th June 2019, 6:16 pm
Sunderland Civic Centre

From 2017/18 to 2018/19 complaints have plummeted from 8,457 to 4,431 – a 47% drop.

Council compliments have also risen by 10% year on year, with a jump from 557 to 614.

The figures were revealed at the council’s Scrutiny Co-ordinating Committee – which regularly looks at council performance.

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Of the 4,431 corporate complaints last year, 73% (3,229) were linked to issues with bin collections from non-delivery to delays.

Over the year however, complaints about bins steadily dropped every three months – from 1,606 in quarter one to 253 in quarter four.

Council complaints manager Marie Johnston said the bin figures should be viewed in the context of the service.

This includes the council servicing 1.6million containers with the number of complaints representing “0.2% of activity”.

She added figures for April 2019 showed low numbers of complaints were continuing.

Coun Niall Hodson welcomed the figures at the meeting.

He added: “I would like to say from my own experience and from residents that the new logging system and email response is better.

“I’m getting comments from residents that they’re reporting things themselves, it’s being done and they seem happier about it.

“So please add my name to your compliments list.”

Reductions in complaints were also seen in adult social care, which saw a 32% reduction on the previous year, a drop in numbers from 137 to 93.

Of the 93 complaints, around 45% were either fully or partially upheld with the highest number of complaints linked to the actions of workers.

Resolutions from these complaints included apologies and explanations and the council providing required equipment.

In one case, the council also waived a portion of the cost of a care package “in recognition of fault and confusion caused”.

However, the number of a complaints about the actions of workers were down 51% on the previous year.

In 2018/19, 27 complaints were also made to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, with 14 closed after initial enquiries and 13 investigated – of which eight were upheld.

Watchdog rulings included issues with council communication, council tax and a planning dispute.