New social services complaints process launched in Wales

A new streamlined and citizen-centred local authority social services complaints and representations process comes into force in Wales.

Deputy Minister for Social Services, Gwenda Thomas, has announced local authorities are required to have a process in place to enable them to deal with complaints and representations about their social services functions.

She stressed it is vitally important that those that use these services have access to a clear and straightforward process which is easy to use and responds quickly and effectively.

The new procedures provide for a two stage process, including an informal stage where all those who raise a complaint are offered a discussion to resolve the matter.

Citizens will continue to have recourse to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.It will replace and modernise the current process which has been in place since 2005.It brings the social services complaints and representations process in line with the Model Concerns and Complaints Policy and Guidance which has been adopted across public services in Wales and make the social services complaints process consistent with the NHS complaints process.

Local authorities will be required to ensure that the new two stage process is accessible and flexible and operates in a timely manner in line with the Regulations and Guidance brought into force.

Service users have the right to choose to use the Welsh language to proceed through the complaints process. The Welsh Government has produced guidance for local authorities and provided practitioner workshops in north and south Wales to support implementation.

Gwenda Thomas said:“Local authority social services across Wales work hard, often in very difficult situations, and routinely deliver effective support that makes a real difference in people’s lives. However sometimes, for a variety of reasons, people will make a complaint about the service they have received.

“The new complaints procedure will streamline and modernise the Social Services Complaints process. It emphasises that everyone who makes a complaint about social services in Wales has a right to be listened to properly and to have their concerns resolved quickly and effectively.

“It will benefit the service user by establishing a more straightforward and citizen-centred approach that is consistent with other public services. Local Authorities will be required to learn from concerns raised and to use that learning as a basis for improving services for all service users.”