Last year Merton Council's handling of complaints was a big concern for the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.

12 months later and "further examples" of these problems are still prevalent.

The Ombudsman recently released its annual summary of complaints made about councils across the country for the year ending on March 31.

The findings don't paint a pretty picture for Merton.

"My investigators have found that your council has been slow to implement the recommendations we made in some cases," the Ombudsman's chairman Michael King wrote to the council.

"There have also been cases here it has taken too long to respond to our enquiries or where your responses have not addressed matters fully.

"Such delays erode the confidence of complainants that their concerns are being taken seriously.

"I would ask you to take the necessary steps to address my concerns and review your council’s complaint handling."

As well as the report, the Ombudsman also published the 22 cases where a complaint was made against the council and subsequently upheld.

Merton’s deputy leader and cabinet member for finance, Councillor Mark Allison, said: “Although this year's independent survey of residents has shown satisfaction with the council rising, with 70% saying they are satisfied, any concerns raised with us are taken seriously.

“That is why, in order to maintain high satisfaction levels, the council has put robust procedures in place since this data was produced to ensure the Ombudsman’s timescales are met and complaints are dealt with.”

Below is a summary of every single of of those 22 decisions:

  • Ms C complained she is unhappy about the way in which the Council has dealt with her daughter's care and support. The Ombudsman found fault with regards to the way in which the Council involved Ms C and her daughter in the care planning. The Council has agreed to apologise for this.
  • Mr B complained the Council failed to put in place provision in his son's statement of special educational needs, delayed issuing an education, health and care plan and delayed a school transfer. The Council failed to ensure an increase in speech and language provision was put into place between 2015 and 2017 and delayed issuing an education, health and care plan. There was no fault in how the Council dealt with the school transfer. Mr B's son missed out on speech and language provision and Mr B had to go to time and trouble to pursue his complaint. An apology, financial payment and a reminder to officers is satisfactory remedy for the injustice caused.
  • Mr B complained that the Council's enforcement agents charged him two enforcement fees for collecting multiple debts. I found the Council at fault for referring the debts on two separate occasions to the enforcement agents rather than all at the same time. The Council has refunded one of the fees.
  • The Council took far too long to complete adaptations to Miss T's home. It has sought to blame Miss T rather than accept responsibility for its own failings. It needs to apologise to Miss T and pay her £750.
  • Mr C complains about the way the Council responded to his reports of planning breaches at a neighbouring property. The Ombudsman has found fault by the Council as it did not keep adequate records, unreasonably delayed responding to Mr C's most recent report and failed to provide proper reasons for its decision not to take further action. The Ombudsman considers the agreed actions of an apology, improvements to the Council's procedures and a proper assessment of the site with the outcome being provided to Mr C is enough to remedy his injustice.
  • The Council failed to communicate with Mrs X and her son properly about the decision to end his Education Health and Care Plan. the Council has agreed a suitable remedy.
  • Ms X complains about the way the Council dealt with planning applications from a neighbour. It failed to consider her objections on one application then reissued the decision notice without keeping the original. However, the approved development would not have been different even if the fault did not occur. The Ombudsman recommends the Council reviews its procedures to ensure similar problems do not reoccur.
  • Mrs Y complained the Council incorrectly charged her father for reablement care following his discharge from hospital. The Council is at fault for charging Mr X for his care. During our investigation, the Council apologised to Mr X and cancelled his care costs.
  • The Council is at fault as it did not consider the cumulative effect of the decrease in on-street parking when it approved new dropped kerbs in a controlled parking zone (CPZ). We cannot say if the Council had considered this it would have refused any application. The Council will consider this issue for every future application in this CPZ.
  • Ms M has complained about the way the Council has handled the child protection case relating to her son. The Council is at fault for not providing full information to the Children and Family Court Advisory Service in November 2016, for not getting Ms M's consent to a male student in a meeting with her social worker, for delays in sending minutes of meetings and for failings in its complaints handling. It has agreed to pay Ms M £350 for the avoidable distress caused. The Council is not at fault for the way it considered referrals from medical professionals nor its decision not to allow a split child protection conference.
  • Mrs X complained about missed refuse and recycling collections. The Ombudsman found the Council to be at fault and it agreed to our recommendations to remedy the injustice caused.
  • The Council was not at fault when it failed to notify Mrs Y about changes to a nearby planning application because there was no requirement for it to do so. Nor does the Council have consider the weight limit on the access road because it is a private matter between the land owners and the developer. But it failed to adequately respond to Mr X's correspondence and complaints despite previous criticism on this issue from the Ombudsman.
  • The complaint is about how long the Council took to find the complainant suitable supported housing, which met his needs for autism specific supported housing. The Ombudsman's view is the delay was due to the lack of the lack of availability of the type of housing needed. But we have found fault with the Council's records keeping about reasonable adjustments in its communications. And with how it managed the complaint.
  • Mrs C complains the Council wrongly referred a £10.43 council tax debt to its enforcement agents which she says caused her unnecessary distress and a significant increase in outstanding costs. The Council has offered to refund the additional compliance and enforcement costs which the Ombudsman considers is a suitable remedy.
  • Mr X complains the Council missed waste collections between May and July 2018 and collected a bulky item collection two days later than agreed. He says the Council's complaint response was poor. The Council is at fault for missing collections and poor information about its procedures. It should apologise to Mr X and update the information it provides to customers about reporting missed collections.
  • Ms J complains the Council failed to meet her adult son's education and care needs. The Ombudsman has found no fault. The Council should apologise for not responding to one of Ms J's complaints.
  • Mr X complains on behalf of Mr Y about incorrect invoices for Mr Y's care, other aspects of Mr Y's care, and failure to complete a carer's assessment for Mr X. Mr X says the alleged failings have gone on "for years" and have caused pain and misery. The Ombudsman finds fault with the Council for not sending correct invoices for Mr Y's care after an error was identified. The Council has agreed to send a revised invoice. The Ombudsman does not uphold the other parts of the complaint because there is no fault in the Council's actions.
  • Mrs B complained that the Council failed to properly explain the funding arrangements for the care of her late mother Mrs C. There was fault by the Council in the information it provided and the time it took to consider the funding of Mrs C's care. It has agreed to apologise and pay her £250.
  • Ms B complains the Council has failed to deal with a bamboo plant growing on recreational parkland which has spread into her and her neighbour's garden. She also complains about the way the Council handled her complaint about this matter. The Ombudsman has found the Council was at fault for failing to deal with Ms B's request in a timely manner and for not keeping her properly updated on the actions it took in response. We have also found it was at fault for the way it handled her complaint. These faults caused Ms B a certain amount of distress as her concerns were not taken seriously by the Council and it could have resolved the matter sooner. We recommend it decides how it will remove the bamboo plant from the park and provides Ms B with a timetable of any action it plans to undertake. We also recommend it apologises to her and makes some service improvements to prevent the faults identified from reoccurring. It has agreed to carry out these recommendations.
  • Ms C complained that her personal budget is not enough to pay for the home care she needs. Furthermore, the Council has failed to take all her Disability Related Expenses into account, as part of her financial assessment, and has failed to explain why. The Ombudsman has found fault with the way the Council had dealt with Ms C's case. The Council has agreed to apologise and backdate a recent increase in her personal budget.
  • Mr X complains about the way the Council handled his homelessness application. The Council is at fault for delaying sending a personalised housing plan and decision letter, for not offering interim accommodation, and for not advising about its housing register or how it could help with a deposit. The Council should pay Mr X £500 to remedy the lack of suitable accommodation and the uncertainty caused by the other failings.
  • Mrs Y complains about the Council's lack of transition planning for her son, X, who has recently turned 18. The Ombudsman finds the Council failed to appropriately forward plan for X's transition into adult services. This is not in accordance with the requirements of the law and guidance. The Council will remedy the injustice this caused with the actions listed at the end of this statement.