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11% rise in complaints about Kent County Council - but compliments also up nearly a third

PUBLISHED: 09:44 24 October 2017

County Hall

County Hall

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KCC also had to shell out some £184,178 in compensation over the last year

Complaints about Kent County Council rose by some 11 per cent last year - but compliments about services provided were also up by almost a third.

A report issued to the council’s Governance and Audit Committee shows there were 3,424 complaints made in 2016/17, a substantial increase from 3,070 the previous year.

Figures showed the majority of these were made by phone and email, with 15 per cent made in a letter and only three per cent through a comment card, or face-to-face.

The council notes that the immediacy of being able to speak to someone directly and receive reassurance it will be looked into, is a likely reason most complaints are made by phone.

Throughout the year, some £184,178 was paid in compensation and settlements as a result of complaints to the council, with the vast majority - over £116,000 - paid or waived as part of local resolution in adult and children’s services.

This is an increase of £79,180 from 2015/16 when £104,998 was paid out in settlements or through waived charges.

However, the council claimed it was important to note that monies paid out during the 2016/17 financial year may relate to complaints recorded in previous years, due to the time that elapses between the date the complaint was lodged and achieving resolution.

Furthermore, 190 complaints were made to the Local Government Ombudsman, an increase of five on the previous year.

“KCC is committed to acknowledge any complaints received within three working days and to provide the customer with a response within 20 working days,” the report said.

“As a whole KCC acknowledged 92 per cent and responded to 86 per cent of complaints within corporate timescales.

“This compares to last year’s responses which were reported to be 95 per cent and 84 per cent respectively.”

However, while complaints were on the rise, so were compliments about the range of services provided by the council, with 2,714 received compared to 2,079 in 2015/16 - an increase of some 31 per cent.

Unlike complaints, most compliments were made via email, with a substantial 21 per cent through a comment card or face-to-face.

KCC decided last September to tender for a corporate system to log and track all customer feedback, currently being implemented across the whole of the organisation, which it believes will bring consistency in the way it is handled and responded to.

The report added: “As part of the system implementation, training will be updated and rolled out to all staff, with some specific investigator training for those who handle complaints regularly as part of their role.”

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