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12 out of 14 complaints against Cambridgeshire County Council upheld in last year by ombudsman

A watchdog upheld 12 complaints against Cambridgeshire County Council in the last year.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman carries out an annual review of complaints made by residents, with the latest covering the period from April 1, 2019 to March 21, 2020.

Shire Hall in Cambridge, the current home of Cambridgeshire County Council, which will be moving to Alconbury
Shire Hall in Cambridge, the current home of Cambridgeshire County Council, which will be moving to Alconbury

Twelve out of 14 complaints were upheld in the period - equating to 86 per cent, compared a national average of 66 per cent.

Upheld complaints included a recommendation that the council apologises and takes a “light touch” in future for a person who claimed it was wrongly seeking money for a care package the complainant said did not meet their needs.

In another case, the council was recommended to pay a complainant £300 after it found to have failed to carry out an education, health and care needs assessment for not conducting sufficient inquiries to establish why a child was unable to attend school, and for other faults related to record keeping and a safeguarding referral.

In a further case, the council agreed to apologise and pay £250 after delays and communication failings related to a change in a person’s care package, the ombudsman said.

In a letter to the council, the ombudsman said: “While I welcome that the council agreed to and implemented the recommendations made during the year, it is disappointing that in two cases, remedies were not completed within the agreed timescales.

“While I appreciate the pressures local authorities are under, delays in implementing remedies adds to complainants’ injustice.

“Additionally, the actions you agree to take, and your performance in implementing them, are reported publicly on our website, so are likely to generate increased public and media scrutiny in future.

“I would ask the council to reflect on the way it implements remedies, with a view to providing us with more timely responses in the future.”

A council spokesperson said: “We are very pleased that the county council has performed well in dealing with complaints made by members of the public and that the Local Government Ombudsman was satisfied that in the 12 cases it upheld we had successfully implemented all of their recommendations.

“When a customer is unhappy about a service, it is important that we deal with their issue in a reasonable timeframe and this is a team effort involving a number of services. We are committed to delivering excellent customer service and we use the learning from feedback to make improvements in our services.”

The council is due to move its headquarters from Shire Hall in Cambridge to Alconbury in late 2020 and early 2021.

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