Public service markets: putting things right when they go wrong

National Audit Office
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This study examines the complaints and redress system in public services, with a particular focus on adult social care and early years education which are parts of the public sector where the government has given users greatest choice. It assesses how complaints and redress can help to improve service delivery and describe the main bodies involved; looks at how service users experience the complaints systems; and examines how well public bodies use complaints and redress data to improve services and systems and the satisfaction of users. It is estimated that, in 2014, 320,000 social care users (some 25%) had service problems in social care, with the most prominent issues being poor quality of service, communications and service management. Key findings included that people found complaints processes in the public sector confusing, often having to deal with many different organisations, they were also less likely to complain about a public service than a private service and found that the process too long to provide any redress. It also identified a lack of leadership in improving complaints processes and a failure of public service organisations to make enough use of complaints to improve services. Recommendations include the nomination of an authority within government to manage the reform of the public sector complaints and redress system, ensuring that service users find the system easy to use and a review the effectiveness of complaints-handling arrangements for private providers where they receive public money. Appendices provide details of the methodology used. (Edited publisher abstract)

Subject terms:
adult social care, complaints, complaints procedures, service users, public sector, child day care, quality assurance, cost effectiveness, user views;
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