Complaints about council services in Wakefield have rocketed by more than 30 per cent.
In 2011/12 the council received 915 complaints, a 30 per cent increase on the previous year.
Council chiefs say changes to rubbish collection services in some areas coupled with increasing numbers of people claiming benefits were largely responsible for the increased number of complaints.
A total of 732 of the 915 complaints were concerned with repeated service delivery failure.
All complaints are investigated by a senior manager of the relevant council department. If the customer remains dissatisfied, it is escalated to a stage two complaint when the council’s customer relations team investigate the matter independently.
If customers are still not happy with the response after the second investigation, they can choose to refer the case to the Local Government Ombudsman.
Of the 915 stage one complaints made to the council in 2011/12, a total of 146 progressed to stage two, an increase of 34 per cent on the previous year.
And 42 complaints were received by the Local Government Ombudsman, compared to 43 in the previous year. A total of 60 per cent of stage one complaints and 49 per cent of stage two complaints were upheld in 2011/12, compared to 42 per cent and 25 per cent respectively in the previous year. Wakefield Council resolved seven complaints by paying out a total of £1,240 in total with sums involved ranging from £10 to £700.
Coun Graham Stokes, Wakefield Council’s cabinet member for corporate performance, said: “Complaints did rise in 2011/12 compared with 2010/11. The main reasons for this include a change to waste collections in rural areas, introduced in November 2011.
“Whenever there are changes to residents’ waste collections there is always some increase in complaints as the new system settles in. There was also an increase in the number of complaints about benefits.
“This is largely due to a higher number of people claiming benefits in the current economic climate. We have also become more efficient at recording complaints by tightening up our recording procedures.
“We are committed to an ongoing programme of training for our staff in complaints handling and customer care. We will continue to learn from the complaints we receive to improve the way we deliver services to our customers.”