Lancashire County Council had a marginally lower proportion of complaints upheld against it than comparable local authorities over the last year.

Figures provided in an annual report by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) show that the organisation agreed with people complaining about the county council in 67 percent of cases between April 2020 and March this year.

That compares to an average of 71 percent of complaints being upheld across all of England’s county councils over the same period.

A total of 33 people complained about Lancashire County Council during 2020/21, with 22 complaints considered justified by the LGSCO.

In the 16 instances where the Ombudsman made recommendations for a particular remedy, the body was satisfied that these had been implemented in full.

However, in a letter to County Hall chief executive Angie Ridgwell, the LGSCO said it was “disappointing” that in five of those cases, the suggested remedies were not completed within agreed timescales – despite the fact that a time extension was granted in one matter because of the impact of Covid.

“While I acknowledge the pressures councils are under, such delays add to the injustice already suffered by complainants,” wrote Ombudsman Michael King.

“I reported my concerns about delays in the remedy process last year and it is concerning that the issues persist.”

A spokesperson for Lancashire County Council said of the Ombudsman’s report: “We work hard to deliver the best services we can to everyone in Lancashire – however, we recognise that we don’t get it right all of the time.

“In many cases we are able to sort out issues which are raised with us before they become complaints and have robust processes in place to investigate and try to resolve complaints when people are dissatisfied with our response.

“The Ombudsman’s report shows that our performance in responding to statutory complaints compares well with other similar councils and that of the 22 complaints which were upheld, the council successfully learnt lessons and implemented all recommendations made by the ombudsman.”

Among the complaints upheld against Lancashire County Council was one in which a woman alleged that the authority had misled her late mother over the need to pay for care, sent financial assessment forms to the wrong address – and then issued a bill for full care costs on the basis that she had failed to fill out those forms. It also telephoned her when she was no longer able to speak.

The Ombudsman found that the county council had “failed to communicate properly” with the woman’s mother and caused “significant distress” in the last months of her life. The authority was told to review its processes, offer an apology to the woman’s daughter and pay £500 in recognition of the difficulty that its actions had brought about.

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