Watchdog upholds 90pc of complaints against council, figures show

Barking Town Hall

Barking and Dagenham is on track to hit 500 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 in the next few days, according to the council. - Credit: Ken Mears

The majority of official complaints made against Barking and Dagenham Council and investigated by a watchdog were upheld last year.

Barking and Dagenham Council was found to not have reached an expected standard in 92pc of the dozen investigations carried out by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) in 2020-21.

The figure compares to an average of 72pc for similar local authorities, according to the LGSCO.

In every case the LGSCO was satisfied the town hall had successfully put its recommendations into practice following investigation.

A council spokesperson said: "It is disappointing more local settlements were not achieved in 2020/21, but it is worth noting the 92pc upheld rate is based on the outcome of 12 formal investigations compared to 27 for Haringey.

"The table showing the number of complaints upheld has Barking and Dagenham at number 23 out of all 32 London boroughs."

There were not any cases where Barking and Dagenham Council provided a "satisfactory" remedy before the 12 complaints reached the ombudsman, according to the LGSCO.

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This compares to an average of 12pc in similar authorities.

One investigation found the council took too long to carry out a review into a woman's temporary accommodation and delayed its response to her complaint.

This caused "avoidable distress and uncertainty", according to the LGSCO. The council apologised to the woman and made a pay out over what the ombudsman described as an injustice.

The local authority's spokesperson said during 2020-21 a total of 122 complaints were escalated to the ombudsman out of 2,962 made to the council.

A total of 157 were reviewed at a less significant, second stage.

"Importantly, a percentage of the 122 complaints bypassed the council and approached the [ombudsman] first, but the majority of the remaining 110 were closed without the need for further investigation," the spokesperson said.  

At the end of March last year the LGSCO temporarily stopped its casework to allow authorities to focus on frontline services in the first wave of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Casework restarted in late June 2020, after a three month pause.

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