Local Government Ombudsman Admonishes Ealing Council

Says it is 'disappointing' suggested remedies are not being implemented

There were 23 rulings against Ealing Council last year

Michael King, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, has written to Tony Clements, the chief executive of Ealing Council, expressing disappointment in the borough’s handling of complaints. He says that the council has been slow to implement remedies within agreed timescales despite the issue being raised for three consecutive years.

The letter is part of an annual review of the performance of all local authorities across the country.

In the year to March 2022, there were 23 rulings against Ealing Council by the Ombudsman, which oversees complaints by residents about council services. There were 38 complaints made in total during the year with 61% of these being upheld compared to an average of 71% in similar authorities.

The previous year the Ombudsman had issued a report about Ealing Council after a care provider, contracted to the council, had falsified records when copies were requested.

In addition, the Ombudsman says that the council failed to act when a safeguarding alert was raised, until a complaint was made and that it then carried out a flawed investigation.

Mr King acknowledges that Ealing Council accepted the findings of these reports and agreed to follow recommendations about service improvements.

However, he goes on to say in the letter to Mr Clements, “We recorded our satisfaction with your Council’s compliance in 25 cases where we recommended a remedy. However, it is disappointing that in six of these cases, remedies were not completed
within the agreed timescales. In one case it took over two years to carry out a policy review.

“This is the third consecutive year where I have raised concerns about delays in the remedy process, so it is disappointing to see the issue persists. I once again invite the Council to consider how it might make improvements to act on our recommendations within the agreed timescales.”

Liberal Democrat, Cllr Gary Malcolm, Leader of the Opposition, said, “Liberal Democrats have said for many years that too many people have trouble getting their problems fixed and the 150 formal complaints about Labour-run Ealing Council made to the Ombudsman in the last year is shocking. For the Council to have allowed records to be falsified is a scandal. Residents feel the Council is not listening to them. Each complaint shows something has gone wrong. Labour-run Ealing Council needs to admit they are failing in this area. They need to make changes to ensure that residents’ complaints are dealt with quickly and actions put in place to stop them happening again.”

A council spokesperson said, "The council is committed to dealing with all complaints in a fair, comprehensive, and timely way but in a small number of cases, often where the complaint is multi-layered or involves more than one service across the council, they require more input and process. We are considering the Ombudsman’s letter and the actions to take to improve our response times.”

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July 28, 2022