Amount of Casework undertaken by Councillors between 2018 and 2022

Currently waiting for a response from Lewisham Borough Council, they should respond promptly and normally no later than (details).

Dear Lewisham Borough Council,

Please disclose the following information in relation to casework - complaints, comments and compliments - registered by the Corporate Complaints Team and Officers of the Council for the last administration of Lewisham Council, May 2018 until May 2022:

(a) The total number of casework registered by the Council
(b) The total number of casework broken down by directorate and category
(c) The total number of complaints that were not completed, completed at Stage I, completed at Stage II and referred to Stage III (the final stage of the complaints procedure)
(d) Please supply the numbers of casework submitted by each elected Councillor for the period, namely May 2018 until May 2022
(e) Please provide the casework enquiries submitted by each elected Councillor in (d) by stages of the complaints procedure, ie Stages I, II and III

Please explain how retiring Councillors - those not seeking re-election or not re-elected in May 2022 - can communicate with those that they have been advocating on behalf of and where their cases remain unresolved. How many cases are in this category?

It has been stated that Councillors are the data controller for the information between themselves and their constituents and when they leave office, this no longer applies. Please publish any correspondence, advice and directions that the Council holds on this matter.

Yours faithfully,

A Hall

Foi, Customer, Lewisham Borough Council

Dear A Hall,

Re: Freedom of Information Act 2000
Environmental Information Regulations 2004 Reference No: 13655637

Thank you for your recent request.

Your request is being considered and you will receive a response within the statutory timescale of 20 working days, subject to the application of any exemptions. Where consideration is being given to exemptions the 20 working day timescale may be extended to a period considered reasonable depending on the nature and circumstances of your request. In such cases you will be notified and, where possible, a revised time-scale will be indicated. In all cases we shall attempt to deal with your request at the earliest opportunity.

There may be a fee payable for the retrieval, collation and provision of the information requested where the request exceeds the statutory limit or where disbursements exceed £10. In such cases you will be informed in writing and your request will be suspended until we receive payment from you or your request is modified and/or reduced.

Your request may require either full or partial transfer to another public authority. You will be informed if your request is transferred.

If we are unable to provide you with the information requested we will notify you of this together with the reason(s) why and details of how you may appeal (if appropriate).

Please note that the directorate team may contact you for further information where we believe that the request is not significantly clear for us to respond fully.

Kind regards
Customer Resolution Administrator
London Borough of Lewisham FOI/EIR Team

NOTE: Please do not edit the subject line when replying to this email.

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Lewisham Council,

3 Attachments

Information request
Our reference: 13655637

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Dear Mr Hall
 
Thank you for your request for information received on 11 May 2022.
 
Please find attached our response to your request.
 
Yours faithfully
Senior Customer Resolutions Officer
FOI/EIR Team
 
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Dear Lewisham Borough Council,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Lewisham Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'Amount of Casework undertaken by Councillors between 2018 and 2022'.

Lewisham Council is refusing to supply information relating to Councillors during 2018 - 2022. The reason given is irrational in law and has no legal basis.

It cannot be right that the Council can withhold information about casework that it - as a body corporate - holds regarding elected members during past administrations. The fact that a Councillor is no longer an elected member currently is irrelevant to the request.

Furthermore, there is a public interest duty to disclose.

Therefore, I request an internal review into the handling of this request within the statutory timescales.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/a...

Yours faithfully,

A Hall

Foi, Customer, Lewisham Borough Council

Dear A Hall,

 

Further to our response to this FOI dated 9 June 2022, it has come to our
attention that the information provided to you could be slightly
misleading. Namely that the numbers in response to part e) of your request
are lower than one might expect for casework submit by members.

 

I've gone back to the team that supplied the statistics and it seems that
the way the questions in your request are worded has caused some
confusion. 'Casework' and 'complaint' seem to have been used
interchangeably, but your specific reference to complaint stages meant the
team worked on the assumption that what you actually meant was complaint.

 

We feel it appropriate to issue you a new response to this FOI, but would
first like to explain to you the differences in how Casework and
Complaints are considered by the Council, and then ask you to clarify what
information you are requesting.

 

Casework. Casework enquiries are usually submit by elected members
(councillors and MPs) on behalf of the constituents in their ward, but can
sometimes be submit by the member on behalf of themselves. These enquiries
should be responded to in 10 working days by the corporate complaints team
but do not have an escalation process. Members are welcome to re-submit an
enquiry if they are not happy with the response issued to them, but these
enquiries cannot be escalated to a stage 2 and 3.

 

Complaints. Complaints are usually submit by residents or customers on
behalf of themselves. They should also be responded to within 10 working
days and they do have an escalation process, eg they can go to stage 2,
then 3, then the ombudsman. A councillor is welcome to send an email on
behalf of a constituent and ask for it to be considered as a complaint,
but then it will not be logged as a piece of casework from that
councillor, but as a complaint from the resident.

 

Your request

(a) The total number of casework registered by the Council

This question is straightforward. We are working to the assumption that
you are just requesting the number of casework from councillors and not
MPs.

 

(b) The total number of casework broken down by directorate and category

Please can you advise what you mean by category?

 

(c) The total number of complaints that were not completed, completed at
Stage I, completed at Stage II and referred to Stage III (the final stage
of the complaints procedure)

Can you confirm here that you are indeed asking for the number of
complaints submit by councillors? Councillors generally submit casework
enquiries rather than complaints.

Or are you asking for the number of casework enquires? Please again note
casework does not have an escalation procedure so if it is casework you
are requesting, we would like to reword this question to ‘The total number
of casework enquiries that were not completed’. The total number of
casework enquiries that were completed will be the answer to this question
subtracted from the response to question a.

 

(d) Please supply the numbers of casework submitted by each elected
Councillor for the period, namely May 2018 until May 2022

This question is straight forward.

 

(e) Please provide the casework enquiries submitted by each elected
Councillor in (d) by stages of the complaints procedure, ie Stages I, II
and III

This question cannot be answered as it is written. Casework is not
considered under the complaints procedure and thus does not have stages 1,
2 and 3. In our first response, we worked to the assumption that what you
meant was ‘(e) Please provide the complaints submitted by each elected
Councillor in (d) by stages of the complaints procedure, ie Stages I, II
and III’ as you later referenced the complaints procedure, but this has
caused confusion amongst others who have read the response and thought it
was showing casework enquiry figures rather than complaints.

 

I hope my explanation about the differences between a complaint and
casework was clear and look forward to hearing from you with clarification
as to what information you are requesting.

 

Kind regards,

FOI Team

 

 

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Dear Lewisham Borough Council,

Thank you for writing to me again regarding this FOI request: 'Amount of Casework undertaken by Councillors between 2018 and 2022'.

As you have identified this FOI request is about casework and complaints undertaken by elected Councillors of the London Borough of Lewisham. It does not include MPs or other elected representatives.

You have requested specific further clarification and I will answer this below:

(a) The total number of casework registered by the Council

I agree with your response that this question is straightforward. You say that you are working to the assumption that this is requesting the number of casework from councillors and not MPs - this is correct. However, casework is taken to mean advocating on behalf of people and this should include complaints, comments and any other form of representation.

(b) The total number of casework broken down by directorate and category

I would be very grateful if the total number could be broken down according to Council directorate - I note that Lewisham Council practice is to include Lewisham Homes separately to the main corporate Council directorates.

The request for catorgorisation is to provide a column of figures showing what are enquiries, what are complaints and any other sub division that the Council may classify casework.

(c) The total number of complaints that were not completed, completed at Stage I, completed at Stage II and referred to Stage III (the final stage of the complaints procedure)

I confirm that this is asking about complaints. The request is clear.

(d) Please supply the numbers of casework submitted by each elected Councillor for the period, namely May 2018 until May 2022

I agree that this question is straight forward. This includes all elected Councillors and all information should be disclosed by the Council.

(e) Please provide the casework enquiries submitted by each elected Councillor in (d) by stages of the complaints procedure, ie Stages I, II and III

Given the Council's comments, I would like to clarify my request. This means, please provide the complaints submitted by each elected Councillor by stages of the complaints procedure, ie Stages I, II and III.

I would like to reiterate my comments that figures should be provided for all elected Councillors during 2018-2022 and that there is no rational reason for refusing to do so.

I look forward to receiving the a full response now.

Yours faithfully,

A Hall

Foi, Lewisham Borough Council

Dear A Hall,

 

Thank you for your email.

 

Just to clarify again, the council does not consider complaints or
comments as casework. Given that, and given your email below, I think the
request should be re-worded as follows.

 

Between 2018 and 2022:

a) The total number of councillor casework enquiries, broken down by
directorate and category

b) the total number of complaints submit by councillors, broken down by
directorate and category.

c) the total number of comments submit by councillors, broken down by
directorate and category.

d) the total number of complaints submit by councillors that were

          - not completed

          - completed at stage 1

          - completed at stage 2

          - completed at stage 3

e) The total number of casework enquiries submit by each councillor in the
period.

f) The total number of complaints (stages 1-3) submit by each councillor
on the period.

 

Please do confirm if you are happy with how I have worded your request. I
believe this covers all the questions you asked and will help the team
running stats to provide you with the information you are seeking.

 

Kind regards,

FOI Team

 

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Dear Foi,

Thank you for rephrasing my original FOI/EIR request. I am content that the Council proceeds and supplies the statistics in this way. I would be very grateful if the Council could take into account all the correspondence thusfar should there be any further questions about this formal request including the fact that I say that there is no rational reason not to supply statistics about Councillors who have left the authority.

Yours sincerely,

A Hall

Foi, Lewisham Borough Council

Dear A Hall,

Great, thank you for confirming. We are working to pull the requested statistics together and will get back to you with the new response as soon as possible.

This email trail will of course be kept and can be referred back to if you have any further questions. You are also welcome to submit a further appeal if you remain dissatisfied with the new response we will soon issue.

Kind regards,
FOI Team

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