Council looks to complaints to make improvements

Merton Council’s cabinet this week announced that, despite making it easier for customers to complain, complaints to the council were down in 2007/08 compared with the previous year. The council is still actively encouraging residents to provide it with regular feedback that it can use to continue to improve its services.

The annual complaints report notes the council received less complaints, responded to the majority of people’s concerns in a timely fashion and most issues were resolved at stage one – the first point at which those concerned contacted the council.

The council logged 958 formal complaints in 2007/2008 down from 1,014 in 2006/07 and over 85% of these complaints were responded to within the set guide timescales.

The council has a three stage complaints process where the complainant has the option of referring the complaint onto the next stage if he or she is not satisfied with the outcome. In 2007/08 there were 870 stage one complaints, 68 (7.8%) of these were unresolved and progressed to stage two and 20 (2.3%) subsequently progressed to stage three. This again is an improvement on 2006/07.

Councillor Samantha George, deputy leader and cabinet member for corporate resources said:

“The report shows that we have been highly successful in dealing with complaints in the last year. Despite introducing an on-line complaints facility to make it even easier for our customers to complain, the fact that complaints have gone down, and that fewer progress to stage two and beyond, shows that we are improving our processes, becoming more efficient and delivering a better service to residents.

“We actively welcome complaints on our service delivery from our customers as this is a key way in which we can learn from our experiences and so improve our services. This type of feedback and is crucial in helping us put our residents first and offering even greater value for money for the council tax that residents pay.