Merton uses complaints to improve

Merton Council has reduced the time it takes to deal with residents’ complaints and made it even easier for residents to comment on council services in order to learn and improve on how the organisation can meet people’s needs.

In the 2008/09 financial year Merton answered 93% of complaints within the council’s set timescale – up on 85% during 2007/08, according to the latest annual complaints report.

Merton 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 2008/09 there were 893 stage one complaints and 69 of these went to stage two – almost the same percentage as last year. A total of 23 complaints subsequently passed on to stage three.

The report also notes feedback from the independent Local Government Ombudsman (LGO). The LGO investigates complaints relating to the majority of council services, brought to them by residents, and in 2008/09 received 76 complaints about Merton Council. This is three less than the previous year. Of theses 76 complaints 30 were treated as premature and sent back to the council and a further 12 customers received advice about sending a complaint directly to the council. The remaining 33 complaints were forwarded to the investigation team but no cases of maladministration were found.

Merton Council deputy leader and cabinet member for change management and performance, Councillor Samantha George said:
“This latest report shows we are continuing to deal successfully with residents’ complaints, speed up our response times and to learn from residents’ feedback.

“In the last two years we have introduced an easy to use online complaints form to make it as straight forward as possible for residents to provide us with feedback. We value residents’ comments and complaints as they provide us with an essential tool to help ensure we are putting the needs of our residents first and offering them the value for money services they want and need.”



– An example of how Merton Council has improved its service to residents is by offering to hold meetings between complainants and section managers to allow the complainants to ask any questions they might have.

– If the Local Government Ombudsman find that the council has done something wrong they can ask the council to take action to put the matter right. What this action is will depend on the particular complaint, how serious the fault was and how you have been affected by what has gone wrong.