THE Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman received more than 50 complaints and enquiries about Warrington Borough Council over 2019-20.

The independent investigator has issued its annual complaints statistics for councils in the north west and has written to local authorities to give them a round-up of complaints.

The Ombudsman received 51 complaints and enquiries about the council over 2019-20 including 16 for education and children’s services, eight for adult social care, eight for benefits and tax and five for planning and development.

A total of seven complaints were upheld, four not upheld, 15 closed after initial enquiries and 16 referred back to the council for local resolution.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said: “While we are seeing more and more complex cases beset by systemic problems, we are also increasingly working with councils to identify the root of those problems and making recommendations to improve the underlying policies and procedures causing them.

“These service improvements highlight the power one single complaint can have – when dealt with properly – to prevent problems reoccurring and improve services for others.

“The cases highlighted in my report reflect the reality of local authority life prior to the Covid-19 crisis, but I believe it is all the more important now to deal with complaints properly and to harness this free public feedback.

“Councils’ readiness on the whole to work with us to implement our practical recommendations to improve the services they provide demonstrates the sector has a mature attitude to complaint handling – one which we have advocated throughout our work.”

The council says it takes all complaints seriously and that complainants always have the right to make representations to the Ombudsman if they are not satisfied once its internal complaints process is exhausted.

A spokesman added: “Last year, we fully complied with the recommendations provided by the LGO in order to resolve the complaints and identify any learning we could take from them.

“The audit and corporate governance committee also receive a report regarding Ombudsman complaints.

“We continually work to improve our processes and services wherever a problem arises.”