More than 80 per cent of complaints against City of York Council investigated by independent inspectors were upheld, new figures show.
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman’s (LGSCO) annual review found that 86 per cent were upheld – compared to an average of just 64 per cent in similar authorities elsewhere in the country.
The Ombudsman has also rapped the council in a letter about “disappointing” responses to its enquiries.
York Labour said the data was “very concerning”.
The LGSCO investigates complaints against councils once they have exhausted internal complaints processes.
There were 19 upheld decisions out of 22 detailed investigations in York between April 2021 and March 2022.
Upheld complaints included cases of a vulnerable woman who said the council failed to protect her from two nearby tenants, a visually impaired woman who was not helped with her bin collections and a complaint about a man’s care funding which led to the council being told to pay out £10,000.
The council complied with the Ombudsman’s recommendations in every case.
However, the Ombudsman can choose not to investigate complaints because, for example, it is outside of its remit or due to insufficient evidence.
There were 32 complaints that were either closed after initial enquiries or not upheld.
LGSCO chair Michael King has also written to the council about its performance, highlighting delays in requests for information from the planning department in particular.
He said: “It is disappointing to, again, note my concerns about your council’s responses to our enquiries.
“My investigators have noted that responses can be poorly organised and named, with files often duplicated. We have also been required to repeatedly ask for information before we receive it.”
The LGSCO has directed more improvements to local councils in the past year than ever before and Mr King noted that many council complaints departments have been under-resourced in recent years, exacerbated by the pandemic.
“I urge you to consider how your organisation prioritises complaints, particularly in terms of capacity and visibility,” he said in his letter to the council.
Labour group leader Coun Claire Douglas said: “It’s just not right that areas of the Lib Dem-Green led council appear to have issues around taking resident complaints seriously and solving problems at the earliest possible stage.
“It seems that good customer service and responding to resident complaints have been relegated to being one of the lowest priorities under the current administration. York residents deserve better”.
A City of York Council spokesperson said: “We acknowledge the report from the LGSCO and thank them for their constructive feedback which highlights some good practice, as well as areas we are working on to improve.
“However, we note the Ombudsman’s comment that there has been some instances of poor organisation of information sent to them. We will continue to work with the Ombudsman to understand this and make any further required changes and improvements.”
The report will be discussed at an upcoming council scrutiny meeting, where improvements will be discussed.
“We will continue to work closely with the Ombudsman to ensure we are as effective as possible as we strive to further improve our service,” the spokesperson added.