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to think staff at my local council should be efficient!

(16 Posts)
ninathenana Mon 12-Nov-12 19:55:34

Sadly had to move my mum into a care home on 18th September.
Every piece of correspondence I have received since has contained errors. I don't mean typos, I mean miss calculations regarding funding and stating that mum's house belongs to housing association for example. NO! it belongs to my brother.
Why is it that the person you need to speak to about these ups is "at lunch/in meeting/on the road" angry

gracesmum Mon 12-Nov-12 20:14:51

Oh it's such a sad reflection of the level to which "public servants" have sunk when incompetence seems to be the name of the game. But when the DG of the BBC gets a half-million handout for massive incompetence - who is going to bother to set or apply standards?

Nelliemoser Mon 12-Nov-12 22:46:42

gracesmum Nina

Don't just blame the ground staff here.

The local authorities are desperately short of cash. Where I live adult care budgets have been cut to the bone as have the numbers of staff.
My local authority made a great number of qualified social workers in Adult services teams redundant about 3yrs ago. They were replaced with clerical grade staff who are working on adult care packages on a call centre, box ticking points basis.

The personal professional bit for arranging care plans etc has gone right out of the window. I cannot believe that other local authorities have not done the same.
The public servants in these fields have been "sunk low" by the local politicians and their pressures on the social care management to get the job done on the cheap and keep council tax low.

Ella46 Mon 12-Nov-12 23:02:06

NellieM You are quite right about the LA cutting staff levels. My cousin did/does that very job of arranging care homes, but their team has been halved,and now no one knows the job properly or has the time to do it properly.

Nelliemoser Mon 12-Nov-12 23:25:51

Ella I think we might be talking about the same LA.

Greatnan Tue 13-Nov-12 06:17:13

Exactly the same has happened in HMRC - Self Assessment was introduced simply to save money by getting rid of highly-trained inspectors - now they have found they need to recruit and train thousands more because each inspector saves many times their salary in tax revenue. Short-termism!
In general, the people making the laws do not need to use the services they are cutting to the bone, or to work in them. This is not about tribal voting - my remarks can be applied to all parties for many years past.

Mamie Tue 13-Nov-12 07:00:43

It is not the Local Authorities who want to make the cuts. This is a direct and deliberate result of the policies of this government. They made the cuts and will be more than happy for beleaguered local staff to get the blame. angry

absentgrana Tue 13-Nov-12 07:50:14

Wasting huge amounts of time on the telephone or writing letters to teach other people how to do their jobs doesn't only apply to public services. It seems pretty much universal.

Learnergran Tue 13-Nov-12 08:21:10

Just a thought, but are we getting away from the OP a bit? I'm not disputing the effect of the cuts but does it really excuse sheer sloppiness creeping in? A few days ago I rang our council to explain that DH had died and have the council tax put in my name - yesterday a letter came from them requesting confirmation of the direct debit details. It was addressed to DH and I. That's just sloppy (and oddly upsetting). Just as with the mistakes in ninathenana's mum's case, I can't see that it makes any difference how many people there are in the office or how busy they may be - it doesn't take any longer to do something properly, it's just that standards have slipped. It's not just the councils. I've had no fewer than FIVE hard copies of the new car insurance policy following the change, all slightly different in detail (names spelt wrongly in two of them), all received in the same post!!

absentgrana Tue 13-Nov-12 08:28:31

Learnergran That reminds me of my aunt telling me that numerous letters from the Inland Revenue were sent to my uncle following his death although she, a highly successful and competent businesswoman, had informed them that he was dead. For nearly three years letters arrived asking him for his new address. Eventually, totally fed up with the constant repetition by mail and on the telephone that her husband had died on such and such a date and that she had supplied a copy of the death certificate on such and such another date, she scribbled his new address on one of the letters – Plot 342, West Block A, New Town Cemetery. That was the last of these letters she received. And yes, she did find it upsetting.

nanaej Tue 13-Nov-12 08:50:00

I agree that you should expect good quality service from local authorities. However I do not think that central government cares! As other posters have said the swingeing cuts at LA level are now showing. The team I worked for was halved and the admin team that supported our work became almost non-existent. This meant that those of us with particular expertise /knowledge of our area of work also had to do our own admin and increase the workload in our specialist area because colleagues were not replaced. I did not always know how to access the programmes we were supposed to upload reports to etc and it took a lot of additional time to learn and to do..leaving less time to do the day job. We got used to it but it was not as efficient and we were more harassed and inevitably the quality of service suffered! Then the council employed a well-known consultancy firm, at huge cost, to find out how to make us more efficient. I would have told them for the price of a canteen coffee!

Barrow Tue 13-Nov-12 08:52:54

Whilst I agree some local authorities are short staffed - it is not an excuse for not doing your job properly. When my husband died I downloaded the form from my local authority to have the council tax changed to my name and apply for the single resident discount. A week later I received a letter stating they had been told my husband had died and to complete the enclosed form (same one I had already sent). I duly completed the form and sent it back. I then received notification that the council tax had been changed to my sole name but they hadn't applied the discount - so I had to write again. I would add that I quoted all and every reference relating to this. It was just a question of someone not reading the file/correspondence and therefore making extra work for themselves.

I had similar experiences when my husband was first diagnosed. We applied for sickness benefit, it took several weeks for them to start paying (after our having to complete several forms - sometimes twice). Then after two weeks someone closed the file and it was placed in storage! So we had to go through the whole thing again. The only way I was able to finalise the matter was by writing to the London office to complain.

Greatnan Tue 13-Nov-12 14:28:39

I am not normally of fan to 'going to the papers' but it does seem to work in some cases.

annodomini Tue 13-Nov-12 15:28:51

If you have a local councillor who cares (believe it or not, some don't shock ), they should have some clout with the officers.

granjura Tue 13-Nov-12 16:16:19

Councillors who care are actually not that rare.
I do feel aggrieved that so many people are always ready to run down anybody who has chosen TO SERVE their local community by becoming involved in local politics. Some of them work tirelessly and for very little reward.
So yes, I'd get in touch with your local councillor for support- you may be very pleasantly surprised.

Mamie Tue 13-Nov-12 16:52:12

I suspect that councillors are limited in what they can do given the speed and the scale of these cuts. You simply can't slash a team from 30+ to six (as has happened to an LA team that I know) and not expect an impact on services. I think people should be turning their anger on central government, not LAs or councillors.
At the same time I am very sorry for people who are suffering from cuts in services, especially in times of stress and difficulty.