Annual customer feedback report

Our annual customer feedback report provides us, our partners and members of the public with important information on what our customers have told us about their expectations and experiences of the services they've received during 2020-21.

This report looks at all of the complaints, compliments and comments that have been recorded by us during the period 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021, including those complaints received about Adult and Children Social Care services.

We have two complaints procedures: the management of customer feedback (which has two stages) and the management of children's social care procedures (which has three stages). All complaints that don't relate to children's social care are processed through the first procedure. For more information on either of these procedures please see our complaints and compliments webpage.

Compliments and complaints we received

  • We received a total of 475 compliments.
  • We received 211 complaints and agreed that there were things we could improve upon for 155 of these.
  • We listen to what our customers say and learn when things go wrong.
  • We received 28 ombudsman contacts.

Core Services directorate

This directorate provides both internal and external services that are core to how we operate. These include:

  • Finance (such as payments and council tax)
  • Human Resources (services for employees and health and safety)
  • Business Support (such as administration) 
  • Business Improvement and Communications (such as performance management, marketing and communications)
  • Legal (such as law and compliance) 
  • Governance, Members and Business Support

There are 42 teams in this directorate.

Compliments and complaints

  • Core Services received 70 compliments this year. This is an increase from last year.

  • The Business Improvement, Human Resources and Communications business unit received 32 compliments; the highest for this directorate.

  • 24 complaints were received, this is a decrease from last year.  We resolved 15 of these quickly and 9 required a formal investigation.  Benefits and Taxation within the Finance Business Unit had the highest number of complaints at 10.  

  • There was 1 Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman contact.  No action was required. 

  • For this directorate, most of our customers told us they were unhappy with staff attitude and our communication and consultation.  

  • 100% of complaints were made by the customer receiving the service.  There were no complaints made through the use of an advocate.  

Summary

Early resolutions Outcomes Resolutions Timescales
15 Inconclusive: 1

Not upheld: 2

Partially upheld: 7

Upheld: 14

The majority of formal complaints were resolved by actions being taken to improve the service.   75% of complaints were resolved within the agreed timescales.  6 our of the 24 complaints were not resolved to agreed timescales.  

Customer feedback

Here are some examples of compliments we received from customers:

Human Resources 

"The support of BMBC Human Resources has not gone unnoticed, the level of support available to schools has been nothing short of amazing.  From the advice sheets you have shared, to editing government updates into easily understandable versions, to the support in systems, allowing us all to work more effectively from home, not to mention making recording of Covid related absences effortless.  You have all been amazing and we have been lucky to have this in Barnsley schools."

Customer Feedback and Improvement 

"Whilst my complaint has been ongoing for a long time my experience with your service has been the best service I received from the council.  The officers I have worked with in the team to date have been brilliant, conscientious and overall just really good."

Place directorate

This directorate provides services that help to transform the borough, particularly in the creation of a thriving and vibrant economy, and also enabling strong and resilient communities. The types of services this includes are:

  • Environment and Transport, such as:
    • Waste Management
    • Parks
    • Highways and Engineering
    • Neighbourhood Services
    • Bereavement Services
    • Home-to-school Transport

  • Regeneration and Culture, such as:
    • Planning and re-design of the town centre and principal towns
    • Museums and visitor sites
    • Housing and energy
    • Employment and skills

There are 45 teams in this directorate.

Compliments and complaints

  • Place received 197 compliments this year. This is an increase from last year’s figure of 174.

  •  The Environment and Transport business unit received 146 compliments; the highest for this directorate.

  • 107 complaints were received, this is a decrease on last year.  We resolved 45 of these quickly and 62 required a formal investigation.  Waste Management within the Environment and Transport Business Unit had the highest number of complaints at 56.

  • There were 11 Local Government Ombudsman contacts.  5 council to pursue, 1 pending, 3 discounts investigation, 1 fault with injustice, 1 no fault injustice.  

  • For this directorate, most of our customers told us they were unhappy with our workforce. 

  • 100% of complaints were made by the customer receiving the service.  There were no complaints made through the use of an advocate.  

Summary

Early resolutions Outcomes Resolutions Timescales
45 Inconclusive: 2

Not upheld: 19

Partially upheld: 17

Upheld: 68

Other route: 1
The majority of formal complaints were resolved by an explanation being provided or actions taken to improve service deliver.   89% of complaints were responded to within the agreed timescales.  12 complaints received responses our of agreed timescales.  

Customer feedback

Here are some examples of compliments we received from customers:

Environment and Transport – Goldthorpe Recycling Centre 

"I attended the Goldthorpe recycling centre on Saturday.  I recognise that this service in particular will receive a lot of negative feedback and felt that I should share my experience as its equally important to recognise the positive experiences.  The weather was terrible, it was freezing and pouring down with rain.  However, the crew at the recycling site were so cheerful, singing away and interacting with the visitors to the site.  They were very helpful too in directing me to the right places.  It must be a hard job for them and can't be easy standing out in the rain all day, so it was nice to see and hear that their spirits were up and it certainly made my visit a positive one.  Thanks to all of them."

Regeneration and Culture - Heritage and Arts 

"I wanted to write and thank you and the team at the Cooper Gallery for the daily digital jigsaw puzzles which you have published since the first lockdown began.  I always start my day with them and they have been an important part of my, and I'm sure many others', coping strategy. It has been an inspired idea and I am very grateful to you all for helping us out here to keep going."

Children's Services directorate

This directorate provides services that relate specifically to children and young people of the borough. These include:

  • Education (such as education welfare and attendance)
  • Early Start (such as childcare)
  • Prevention (such as family centres)
  • Children's Social Care and Safeguarding

There are 15 teams in this directorate.

Compliments and complaints

  • Children’s Services received 37 compliments this year. This is a increase from 23 last year. 

  • The Education, Early Start and Prevention business unit received the highest number of this directorate, 22.  

  • 41 complaints were received.  We resolved 11 of these early.  We formally investigated 30.  The Assessment and Stronger Families team within the Children's Social Care and Safeguarding Business Unit had the most complaints at 15.
  • There were 4 Local Government Ombudsman contacts.  2 fault with injustice, 1 pending and 1 outside of jurisdiction. 

  • For this directorate, most of our customers told us they were unhappy with our communication and consultation and processes and procedures.  

  • 3 complaints were made through an advocate.

Summary

Early resolutions Outcomes Resolutions Timescales
11 Inconclusive: 1

Not upheld: 11

Partially upheld: 19

Upheld: 10

The majority of formal investigation complaints were resolved by an explanation being provided.  95% of complaints were resolved within the agreed timescales.  2 complaints fell out of the agreed timescales.  

Customer feedback

Here are some examples of compliments we received from customers:

Children's Social Care 

"I wanted to let you know how amazing one of your social workers is.  She is an amazing social worker and really has supported us through this rough period she goes above and beyond to make us feel safe and not alone.  I really struggle in meetings and often become overwhelmed but this week she has been there in meetings and I've felt really supported so I want to say a big thank you for giving our family this support to be able to welcome social care into our home to see the good it us."

Children’s Social Care

"My social worker has treated me with respect and as an equal partner, she engaged really well with me and my children, who also think that you are absolutely great."

Adults and Communities directorate

This directorate services the communities within the borough and includes services such as:

  • Communities (such as safer neighbourhoods and enforcement and libraries)
  • Adult Social Care and health

There are 33 teams in this directorate.

Compliments and complaints

  • Adults and Communities received 85 compliments this year. This is a decrease from the 109 recorded last year, 

  • The Adult Social Care received the highest number of compliments, 65 in total.  

  • 36 complaints were received, this is a decrease from last year.  We managed to resolve 5 of these cases quickly and 31 required formal investigation.  The Safer Neighbourhoods team within the Communities Business Unit had the most complaints at 6.

  • For this directorate, most of our customers told us they were unhappy with our processes and procedures.  

  • There were 6 Local Government Ombudsman contacts.  3 are pending, 2 progressed to investigation, 1 council to pursue.  

  • 100% of complaints were made by the customer receiving the service.  There were no complaints made through the use of an advocate.  

Summary

Early resolutions Outcomes Resolutions Timescales
5 Inconclusive: 4

Not upheld: 13

Partially upheld: 7

Upheld: 12


The majority of formal investigation complaints were resolved by an explanation being provided. We resolved 81% of complaints early and those requiring formal investigation within agreed timescales. 7 were not. 

Customer feedback

Here are some examples of compliments we received from customers:

Barnsley Libraries 

"I'd just like to say I think it's fabulous what you are doing, considering the circumstances.  It's brilliant we can still use these services so well."

Assisted Living Technologies

"Thank you for their care and kindness this evening.  The lady had fallen and needed assistance getting back up.  The response team assisted lady up.  The team were caring and considerate towards the lady and treated her with care and dignity."

Public Health and Regulatory Services 

This directorate provides the services to the borough relating to health and regulation such as:

  • 0 to 19 Service (health visitors)
  • Regulation Services (commercial regulations, food hygiene and pollution control).

There are 3+ teams in this directorate.

Compliments and complaints

  • A total of 65 compliments have been received, this is an increase from 18 we reported last year.  

  • The 0-19 Public Health Nursing Service received the most compliments, 56 in total. 

  • 3 complaints were received, the same as last year.  We resolved 1 case quickly and 2 required formal investigation.  Environmental Services within Regulatory Services has the most with 2 complaints. 

  • For this directorate our customers told us they were unhappy with our processes and procedures, delay in providing information and staff attitude.  

  • There was 1 Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman contact regarding this directorate.

  • No complaints were made through an advocate.

Summary

Early resolutions Outcomes Resolutions Timescales
1 Inconclusive: 0

Not upheld: 2

Partially upheld: 1

Upheld: 0
The formal complaints were resolved by an explanation being provided and reassurance being given. 67% of complaints were resolved within agreed timescales.  1 out of the 3 complaints was out of timescale.  

Customer feedback

Here are some examples of compliments we received from customers:

Infant Feeding Team 

"We just want to say an absolutely huge thank you to all the teams and services that have helped to guide us and keep us safe from early pregnancy right through to delivery and present day!!  You really are all amazing and we're very grateful for everything you do especially considering we had/have a pandemic to deal with!"

0-19 Public Health Nursing Team 

"I just want to say a big thank you to your public health nurse in the central team, she has been supporting us with our twin girls for the last few months and she really has been amazing.  She has always said the right things, along with giving us the encouragement and confidence to continue when we have needed it.  We are very grateful for all your support."

Learning from feedback

Learning from our customers is really important to us. During the investigations we undertake we look at what may have gone wrong, why, and what we can do to improve the services we provide. Below are a few examples of learning we've identified from our complaints investigations and improvements we're working towards achieving.

Customer communication

We recognise the importance of how we communicate with our customers and we've identified the opportunities below to learn from what our customers have experienced:

  • Environment and Transport: To improve communication with the public in respect of follow up responses from the service, a courtesy email has been developed to let people know their emails have been read. 
  • Contact Centre: To provide clear expectations on when a customer will receive a response from a manager, a timescale will be agreed and call back tracker devised.  

Processes and procedures

Customers shared with us their experiences of using our services and from this we identified opportunities where we could improve out procedures, so that our customers experienced improved service delivery and out staff had clearer guidance. Here are a few of the improvements we identified:

  • Building Control: Consideration will be given to clearly state that it is the developer who is responsible for temporary drainage measures to avoid flooding of neighbouring land and property and to include a condition in the construction method statement in respect of effective management of temporary surface water. 
  • Regeneration and Culture:  Improvements will be made to improve record keeping and logging enquiries to make sure they are all answered.  

Working together

It's important that we're seen by the customer as one council and therefore the services we provide are seamless and coordinated as much as possible. We've therefore listened and learnt from our customers who have told us that this hasn't always been the case, and below are a few of the improvements we're working to achieve:

  • Environment and Transport: To understand the borough area and raise the profile of ward areas within groups and officers, a survey of the Kingstone ward has been undertaken and abandoned bins removed.  The profile of the ward is being raised with the Fly Tipping Task and Finish Group and Community Safety Officers.  

Key data

One of the aims of the Customer Feedback, Information and Improvement Team is to try and make the
information we produce interesting and easy to read. However, we also understand it's important to be
clear and transparent. It's for this reason that we've included the key data that's supported the
compilation of this report below.

Number of compliments

This year has seen an increase in the number of compliments when compared to last year. There were 369 in 2019/20 and 475 in 2020/21

Our Place directorate received 197 compliments; the highest number of all the directorates.  The council as a whole received 21 compliments about it's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Compliments total by directorate

  • Adults and Communities: 85
  • Core Services: 70
  • Children's Services: 37
  • Place: 197
  • Public Health: 65
  • Covid: 21

Top three business units

  • Environment and Transport: 146
  • Public Health and Regulatory Services: 65
  • Regeneration and Culture: 51

Compliments by business unit

  • Environment and Transport: 146
  • Public Health and Regulatory Services: 65
  • Adult Social Care: 64
  • Regeneration and Culture: 51
  • Business Improvement, Human Resources and Communication: 32
  • Education, Early Start and Prevention: 22
  • Stronger, Safer and Healthier Communities: 21
  • Finance: 19
  • Children's Social Care and Safeguarding: 15
  • Customer Information and Digital Services: 14
  • Legal: 3
  • Council Governance: 2

Number of complaints and resolution method

Overall, we received 323 complaints during 2020/21, however 112 of these were withdrawn, leaving 211.  A slightly higher proportion of complaints were withdrawn this year than last, 35% compared to 31.5% in 2019/20.

There has been a decrease in the number of complaints we received this year compared to last year's figures (275).  There has also been a decrease in complaints that have required formal investigation from 2019/20 (157).

We managed to achieve early resolutions on 37% of complaints.  

Directorate Early resolution Formal investigation Total complaints
Adults and Communities 5 31 36
Core Services 15 9 24
Children's Services 11 30 41
Place 45 62 107
Public Health 1 2 3
Total 77 134 211

This year there were seven Children’s Social Care complaint investigations that progressed to stage two.  Two were partially upheld and five were upheld.  

One Children's Social Care complaint moved to stage three and was upheld.  

One Place directorate complaint moved to stage two and was upheld.  

Early resolution methods 

Early resolution method Percentage of complaints 
Progressed to formal  1%
Non-financial redress 1%
Financial redress 1%
Reassurance  17%
Improvement to service  6%
Explanation  36%
Change to service and apology 5%
Apology  23%
Actions for improvement  9%

Resolution methods of formal complaints 

Resolution methods of formal complaints method  Percentage of complaints 
Reassurance of service delivery  12%
In progress 6%
Financial redress 2%
Explanation of events/circumstances 40%
Change of service  1%
Apology for service failure  4%
Apology for inconvenience  3%
Apology for error 5%
Alternative route followed (legal) 1%
Actions to be undertaken to improve service delivery  28%

Withdrawn complaints 

Withdrawn complaints method Total  
What we tell you about things 9
The way we do things  17
Staff 38
How we tell you about things  17
How we follow the rules  31

Types of complaints 

Most of our complaints were about our workforce and how we are communicating with our customers.  This is to be expected as these are the main interactions we have with members of the public.  

Reasons for complaints 

Complaint type  Number of complaints  Percentage of complaints 
How we tell you about things  52 25%
What we tell you about things  18 9%
How we follow the rules  39 19%
The way we do things  40 19%
Staff  62 30%
Total  211 100%

We acknowledge that we have either upheld or partially upheld most of the complaints we have received, therefore we are agreeing that we need to improve and learn from what our customers are telling us.  In doing this we have provided an explanation as to resolutions to complaints and to explain what went wrong and what we will do to address this.  

Outcome of complaints 

Outcome type  Number   Percentage
Alternative route followed 1 1%
Inconclusive  8 4%
Not upheld  47 22%
Partially upheld  51 24%
Upheld  104 49%
Total  211 100%

Timescales for resolution

We resolved 87% of our complaints within timescales, which is an improvement upon last year's figures of 79%.  However this means that we have not met agreed timescales on 13% of occasions.  

We will continue to work to improve meeting the timescales we agree with our customers as we know that this is important.  However, sometimes due to availability and the complexity of some complaints these timescales are exceeded.  We always aim to keep the customer up to date when there will be a delay with their complaint investigation.  

Early resolutions

Business unit Inconclusive Not upheld Partially upheld Upheld Total Timescale not met Timescale met Total 
Adult Social Care and Health 1   1 2 4   4 4
Communities        1 1   1 1
Children's Social Care and Safeguarding  1 3 6 1 11   11 11
Customer Information and Digital Service  1   3 4 8 1 7 8
Finance      1 6 7 3 4 7
Regeneration and Culture    1 1 2 4   4 4
Environment and Transport    8 7 26 41 5 36 41
Public Health and Regulatory Services     1   1   1 1
Total 3 12 20 42 77 9 64 77

Formal complaints 

Business unit Alternative route followed (legal) Inconclusive Not upheld Partially upheld Upheld Total Timescale not met Timescale met Total 
Adult Social Care and wellbeing      10 4 7 21 7 14 21
Communities    3 3 2 2 10   10 10
Children's Social Care and Safeguarding      7 8 6 21 2 19 21
Education Early Start and Prevention      1 5 3 9   9 9
Finance      2 2 3 7 2 5 7
Business Improvement, Human Resources and Communications        1   1   1 1
Customer Information and Digital Services          1 1   1 1
Regeneration and Culture    1 7 4 6 18 5 13 18
Environment and Transport  1 1 3 5 34 44 2 42 44
Public Health and Regulatory Services      2     2 1 1 2
Total 1 5 35 31 62 134 19 115 134

Ombudsman contacts

This year has seen a decrease in the number of Local Government Social Care Ombudsman contacts than last year.  In 2019/20, there were 41 and in 2020/21 there were 28.  Our annual review letter was received in July 2021, where it was explained that the reduction in cases is a direct result of the Ombudsman not accepting new complaints and stopped investigating existing cases between March and June 2020.

Business unit Nature of enquiry Outcome/status Ombudsman remedy
Berneslai Homes

3 enquiries 

5 investigations

4 council to pursue

1 fault with injustice

1 no fault or injustice

1 fault already identified

1 financial redress and work to be undertaken

1 display signage and a decision or policy amendment made

1 award financial redress and write to the customer

Finance  1 investigation  1 discounted investigation   
Regeneration and Culture 

4 enquiries

5 investigations

4 council to pursue

1 pending decision

3 discontinued investigation

1 fault with injustice

1 no fault no injustice

1 letter of apology to be issued
Environment and Transport  1 enquiry 1 council to pursue   
Adult Social Care and Wellbeing 

1 enquiry 

2 investigations

1 council to pursue

2 pending decision 

 
Communities  1 investigation  1 no fault and no injustice   
Education, Early Start and Prevention  2 investigations  2 fault with injustice caused

1 financial redress and communication on operational practice

1 written apology and financial redress

Children's Social Care and Safeguarding  2 investigations 

1 pending decision

1 outside of Ombudsman's jurisdiction

Pending decision 
Regulatory Services  1 investigation  1 discounted investigation   

Who, how and where complaints were made

Who made a complaint to us

  • 99% of complaints were made by the service user themselves
  • 1% of complaints were made by an advocate

99% of complaints are made by the person who is receiving the service.  The 1% using an advocate were complaints about Children's Services directorate so may have been made upon the behalf of a child.  

How complaints were made

  • 19% of complaints were made by phone. This has decreased from 32% in 2019/20.
  • 53% of complaints were made online. Last year 48% were made online. We're keen to encourage our customers to use our online services.
  • 5% of complaints were made by post. We're receiving less complaints by post. In 2019/20 9% of complaints were made this way.
  • 22% of complaints were made by email.

Where complaints were made

The trend continues that most of the customers who made a complaint raised their concerns directly with the Customer Feedback, Information and Improvement Team (75%). This shows that the team are continuing to be accessible to customers and that they are aware of their right to complain. This is great news and we welcome all feedback from our customers.

Routes of complaint

  • Feedback and Improvement Team: 75%
  • Direct to service: 7%
  • Contact Centre: 6%
  • Chief Executive: 4%
  • Councillor: 2%
  • Service Director: 2%
  • Council website: 1%
  • Advocate: 1%
  • Ombudsman: 1%
  • Partner Organisation: 0%
  • NHS: 0%
  • Commissioned service provider: 0%