Complaints against Sheffield Council to ombudsman rise - with adult social care concerns highest

Sheffield Town Hall Pinstone Street Autumn
Sheffield Town Hall Pinstone Street Autumn
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Watchdogs received an increased number of complaints against Sheffield Council last year, new figures show.

In total 188 complaints about the authority were made to the independent Local Government Ombudsman, which is the final stage for complaints about councils, in 2014-15 compared to 166 the previous year.

Adult social care was the department where most concerns were raised - with 38 complaints compared to 26 the previous year.

The ombudsman said complaints about adult social care had risen nationwide.

In May, a vulnerable double amputee was awarded £27,000 after she was wrongly denied the wrong care and left virtually housebound for over a year by Sheffield Council and Sheffield Health and Sheffield Social Care NHS Foundation Trust.

An ombudsman investigation found the two organisations had wrangled for months about whether her needs were mainly physical or mental health related, how much support she should receive and which organisation would pay for it.

Another 34 complaints against Sheffield in the last year were made about highways and transport, an increase on 26, while 33 were made about children’s services and education, down from 35.

When detailed investigations where undertaken, 19 complaints were upheld, which means the ombudsman found fault with how the council acted, and 22 were not.

Another 69 were referred back to the council for resolution and 56 were closed after initial inquiries.

The ombudsman said a separate survey had shown councils were dealing with more complaints but had less resources.

“Our findings point to a local complaints system that is under real pressure”, said Dr Jane Martin, Local Government Ombudsman.

Coun Ben Curran, the council’s cabinet member for finance and resources, said: “We are pleased that, as in previous years, the ombudsman found no case to answer in almost 90 per cent of complaints made against us last year and the report shows we performed better than other major cities. However, we take all complaints very seriously and in the small minority which are substantiated we always review and learn from them to try to improve services to avoid similar problems.”