COMPLAINTS to councils in Gwent have risen by almost 20 per cent.

The number of complaints received by the five local authorities in the area from 2018-19 was 143. This was 25 more complaints than the previous year where there were 118.

The figures were revealed in an annual letter to councils across the country by the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales (PSOW).


The subject of complaints across Gwent included adult social services, children’s social services, complaints handling and housing.

Complaints to Caerphilly County Borough Council were 33 percent higher than the previous year. They received 60 complaints in 2018-19 compared to 45 in 2017-18.

Two councils, Torfaen and Blaenau Gwent, saw a fall in the number of complaints they received. Torfaen received 12 complaints compared to 15 the previous year, while Blaenau Gwent received eight, two fewer than 2017-18.

Newport City Council saw the smallest change in council complaints compared to the previous year. In 2018-19 the council received 38, one more than the year before.

Monmouthshire saw a 25 percent increase in complaints from 16 in 2017-18 to 20 in 2018-19.

Two councils, Torfaen and Caerphilly, each had a complaint investigated by the PSOW. That’s an improvement on the three the PSOW investigated the previous year across Gwent.

Last year 153 complaints cases were closed in Gwent. Of these, 18 required intervention by the PSOW.

In Gwent, Caerphilly had the highest number of cases, eight, that required PSOW intervention. Of Caerphilly’s 68 closed cases, six were out of PSOW’s jurisdiction, 26 were determined to be premature, 26 were closed after initial consideration, nine had an early resolution or voluntary settlement and one was upheld wholly or in part.

Blaenau Gwent had 29 per cent of its closed cases requiring intervention, making it the joint highest across Wales with Flintshire. Of the seven closed cases, two were out of PSOW’s jurisdiction, two were premature, two had an early resolution or voluntary settlement and one was closed after initial consideration.

Of Monmouthshire’s 23 closed complaints, none required PSOW intervention. Five of these were out of the PSOW jurisdiction, seven were premature and 11 were closed after initial consideration.

Newport had seven of its 43 closed cases requiring PSOW intervention, while 11 were out of jurisdiction, eight were premature, 17 were closed after initial consideration, six had an early resolution or voluntary settlement and one required a public interest report.


Just one of Torfaen’s 12 closed complaints required intervention as four were out of jurisdiction, four were premature, three were closed after initial investigation and one had an early resolution or voluntary settlement.

A Monmouthshire County Council spokesman said: “Monmouthshire County Council works closely with the Public Services Ombudsman Wales (PSOW) and welcomes this letter.

“While some of the complaint numbers have increased marginally, we remain below the average expected of a council of our size.

“We are pleased that the PSOW has recognised the good work of the council, specifically highlighting the effective action taken with regard to an isolated subject of complaint rises in stating ‘I intend to refer to the example set by your council in this regard as an exemplar of good practice.”

A spokesman for Caerphilly council said, “It is always disappointing to receive complaints, but we recognise that due to the diverse nature of our services – e.g. social care, planning, education, highways and public protection –  it is inevitable that we will sometimes receive complaints and we always do our best to resolve them in the best interests of all concerned.”

A Torfaen council spokesman said: “The council is always seeking to reduce the number of complaints which require intervention by the Ombudsman’s office.”

A spokesman for Blaenau Gwent council said: “The council has a robust complaints procedure in place for members of the public and all complaints are dealt with in an open, honest and timely manner.

“The number of complaints that have been referred to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales has continued to steadily decrease over the past few years, and a relatively low number of these complaints receive intervention from the Ombudsman.”

Newport City Council did not respond to request for comment.

Changes to the way complaints are made came into effect earlier this year with the introduction of the Public Services Ombudsman (Wales) Act 2019.

The new law aims to make it easier to complain. People no longer have complain to in writing. They will be able to complain orally or through British Sign Language.

The PSOW will also be able to undertake investigations without a formal complaint when it is in the public interest.

The current PSOW is Nick Bennett, whose role is to look into complaints about public services and independent care providers and investigate complaints that members of local government bodies have broken their authority’s code of conduct.