Appendix 1: Notes to assist Interpretation of the statistics 2008/09

Introduction

This year, the annual review only shows 2008/09 figures for enquiries and complaints received, and for decisions taken.  This is because the change in the way we operate (explained in the introduction to the review) means that these statistics are not directly comparable with statistics from previous years.

Table 1. LGO Advice Team: Enquiries and complaints received

This information shows the number of enquiries and complaints received by the LGO, broken down by service area and in total.  It also shows how these were dealt with, as follows.

Formal/informal prematures: The LGO does not normally consider a complaint unless a council has first had an opportunity to deal with that complaint itself.  So if someone complains to the LGO without having taken the matter up with a council, the LGO will usually refer it back to the council as a 'premature complaint' to see if the council can itself resolve the matter.  These are 'formal premature complaints'.  We now also include 'informal' premature complaints here, where advice is given to the complainant making an enquiry that their complaint is premature.  The total of premature complaints shown in this lines does not include the number of resubmitted premature complaints (see below).

Advice given: These are enquiries where the LGO Advice Team has given advice on why the Ombudsman would not be able to consider the complaint, other than the complaint being premature.  For example, the complaint may clearly be outside the Ombudsman's jurisdiction.  It also includes cases where the complainant has not given enough information for clear advice to be given, but they have, in any case, decided not to pursue the complaint.

Forwarded to the investigative team (resubmitted prematures): These are cases where there was either a formal premature decision, or the complainant was given informal advice that their case was premature, and the complainant has resubmitted their complaint to the Ombudsman after it has been put to the council.  These figures need to be added to the numbers for formal/informal premature complaints (see above) to get the full total number of premature complaints.  They also needed to be added to the 'forwarded to the investigative team (new)' to get the total number of forwarded complaints.

Forwarded to the investigative team (new): These are the complaints that have been forwarded from the LGO Advice Team to the Investigative Team for further consideration.  The figures may include some complaints that the Investigative Team has received but where we have not yet contacted the council.

Table 2. Investigative Team: Decisions

This information records the number of decisions made by the LGO Investigative Team, broken down by outcome, within the period given.  This number will not be the same as the number of complaints forwarded from the LGO Advice Team because some complaints decided in 2008/09 will already have been in hand at the beginning of the year, and some forwarded to the Investigative Team during 2008/09 will still be in hand at the end of the year.  Below we set out a key explaining the outcome categories.

MI reps: where the LGO has concluded an investigation and issued a formal report finding maladministration causing injustice.
LS (local settlements): decisions by letter discontinuing our investigation because action has been agreed by the authority and accepted by the Ombudsman as a satisfactory outcome for the complainant.
M reps: where the LGO has concluded an investigation and issued a formal report finding maladministration but causing no injustice to the complainant.
NM reps: where the LGO has concluded an investigation and issued a formal report finding no maladministration by the council.
No mal: decisions by letter discontinuing an investigation because we have found no, or insufficient, evidence of maladministration.
Omb disc: decisions by letter discontinuing an investigation in which we have exercised the Ombudsman's general discretion not to pursue the complaint.  This can be for a variety of reasons, but the most common is that we have found no or insufficient injustice to warrant pursuing the matter further.
Outside jurisdiction: these are cases which were outside the Ombudsman's jurisdiction.

Table 3. Response times

These figures record the average time the council takes to respond to our first enquiries on a complaint.  We measure this in calendar days from the date we send our letter/fax/email to the date that we receive a substantive response from the council.  The council's figures may differ somewhat, since they are likely to be recorded from the date the council receives our letter until the despatch of its response.

Table 4. Average local authority response times 2008/09

This table gives comparative figures for average response times by authorities in England, by type of authority, within three time bands.

Appendix 2: Local Authority Report - B&NES  For the period ending 31st March 2009

LGO Advice Team

Enquiries and
complaints
received
Adult
care
services

Children
and
family
services

Education   Housing  Benefits Public
Finance
inc Local
Taxation 
Planning
and
building
control 
Transport
and
highways
 Other  Total
Formal/informal
premature complaints 

 1

13 

Advice given

 0

 0

Forwarded to
investigative team
(resubmitted
prematures)

 0

Forwarded to
investigative team
(new)

 2

10 

18 

Total

 3

21 

39 

Investigative Team

 Decisions MI reps  LS  M reps  NM reps  No mal  Omb disc  Outside
jurisdiction 
Total 
 01/04/08-31/03/09

13 

26 

Response
times

   FIRST ENQUIRIES

No. of First Enquiries  Avg no. of days to respond
 01/04/08-31/03/09

17 

24.6 

 2007/2008

14 

32.6 

 2006/2007

20 

42.1 

Average local authority response times 01/04/08 to 31/03/09

 Types of authority

 less than or = 28 days

29-35 days

more than or = 36 days

 District councils

60

20 

20 

 Unitary authorities

56 

35 

 Metropolitan authorities

67 

19 

14 

 County councils

62 

32 

 London boroughs

58

27 

15 

 National park authorities

100 

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