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Council Continues to Improve on Complaints

South Tyneside Council has improved its performance in handling complaints from members of the public. The number of corporate complaints against the Council has also fallen by 42.9 per cent since 2010.

Every year the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) publishes information about each Council's performance so that the Council can review its own performance and benchmark with other local authority areas. It also provides members of the public an opportunity to compare how their local council performs.

The latest report shows that the number of complaints against South Tyneside Council, which were upheld by the LGSCO in favour of the complainant, has fallen. South Tyneside is the best performing council in the region in terms of percentage of cases upheld.

Councillor Ed Malcolm, Lead Member for Resources and Innovation, said: "We are committed to being an open and transparent organisation. Making a complaint is a fundamental democratic right and members of the public are supported by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman in holding the Council to account.

"The information we receive from the Ombudsman helps us to assess our performance, learn from mistakes and develop our complaints handling procedures as well as to aid the scrutiny, and improvement, of local services. It is important that we put things right when they go wrong."

The Council received 2,183 corporate complaints in 2018/19, compared to 3,829 in 2010/11 - a fall of 42.9 per cent.

And of the 2 percent (45 complaints) that were presented to the Ombudsman in 2018/19, only 13 were investigated in detail with 0.2 per cent (six complaints) upheld in favour of the complainant.

Cllr Ed Malcolm added: "Cases considered by the Ombudsman are a very small proportion of overall complaints to the Council - less than one per cent over the last 12 months. A reduction in the proportion of cases where the Council is found to be at fault by the Ombudsman shows that we continue to do better as an organisation."

The Ombudsman's report will be considered in further detail at a future meeting of the Standards Committee. The Committee is responsible for promoting, maintaining and providing advice on high standards of conduct within the Council as well as regularly reviewing the Council's approach to complaints.

Professor Grahame Wright, the independent Chairman of the Committee said: "This is a positive report by the Local Government Ombudsman about the Council's improved performance and its approach to decision making and learning from complaints. It is important that members of the public are confident that if they need to make a complaint against the Council, the process is fair, impartial and overseen by independent bodies."

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