Building on earlier sampling activity, as part of our ongoing assessment of compliance with the model complaints handling procedure (CHP) we recently wrote to all councils asking for further information about their reporting of complaints. We are in the early stages of considering the information provided. We will liaise directly with councils to advise on any compliance issues, and will also share best practice through the local authority complaints handlers network. Where appropriate we will also provide a summary of our findings to Audit Scotland, so that this information may be used to inform the shared risk assessment.
We are now in the final quarter of the reporting year and are aware that councils are turning their attention to the requirement to publish their annual complaints handling performance against the SPSO performance indicators. The next meeting of the complaints handlers network will be held on 28 March, where representatives of local authorities will discuss how information should be presented and reported. The network will also discuss the approach to developing the network further as a benchmarking forum for the performance indicators.
If you are interested in becoming involved in the work of the network, please contact the CSA team directly at CSA@spso.org.uk.
Local authority sounding board
The inaugural meeting of this sounding board will take place in March. It is our third sounding board, following the NHS and customer boards established last year. The Chair of SOLACE (Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers) and the Ombudsman jointly invited members, including representatives of SOLACE, SOLAR (Local Authority Lawyers and Administrators), ADES (Directors of Education), ADSW (Directors of Social Work), HoP (Heads of Planning), CIPFA (Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy) and the Improvement Service. A complaints manager and the chair of the local authority complaints handlers’ network are also included.
Given that the Government is looking at complaints about health and social care integration and social work and is consulting on permanent arrangements for review of the Scottish Welfare Fund, the timing is good for putting a sounding board in place. It is also expected that discussions may arise from the requirements of the model CHP such as the reporting and benchmarking of complaints information, and mechanisms for cross-sectoral learning from complaints, including the local authority complaints handlers network.
As we work towards the end of the business year and registered social landlords (RSLs) begin to consider their annual performance in relation to handling complaints, we would remind them of the complaints handling performance indicators published on 18 December 2012. These are designed to be used to assess complaints handling against the requirements of the model CHPs for RSLs and local authorities, in relation to housing complaints. The RSL performance indicators can be accessed here.
Good progress has been made on the development and introduction of a further education complaints handlers network group, with the first meeting being scheduled for 11 March. This network will provide a forum for complaints practitioners in the sector to share information and best practice in complaints handling, and to shape future complaints handling arrangements on behalf of the sector, including reporting, publishing and benchmarking information.
If you are interested in joining the network group, please contact the CSA team directly at CSA@spso.org.uk .
Model CHP for the Scottish Government, Scottish Parliament and associated public authorities in Scotland
The model CHP for these organisations was published on 28 March 2013, and they are required to have implemented it by 31 March 2014.
Since publication, we have engaged with several organisations to offer advice and guidance to help them develop and implement their CHP. More generally, we are aware from our contact with a range of organisations that most are on target to achieve implementation by the required date. We remain committed to providing support, advice and guidance to any organisation that requests it. We can also advise on the range of training that the SPSO can provide. Please contact our CSA team by emailing email@example.com for further information.