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Ealing Council still keeping residents hanging on the telephone and failing to respond to FOI requests on time

Ealing Council continues to keep residents hanging on the telephone and failing to meet statutory targets in how it responds to freedom of information (FOI) requests, its own internal report has found.

Labour-run Ealing Council has revealed that it is still failing to meet its commitment of answering 80% of phone calls within five minutes. In a recently released Ealing Council Plan Performance Report Q2 2023/24, the council said that its year to date performance was 73% of answering all incoming calls within five minutes.

When it came to responding to freedom of information requests, the council’s target is a statutory 100% within 20 days but it only achieved 91.9%.

The number for answering calls within 5 minutes is similar to its performance in Q3 22/23 while there has been improvement in FOI requests it is still below its target to hit.

In providing a reason for its failure to hit its own telephone answering target, the council said in a note: “73% of telephone calls were answered within 5 minutes, less than 80% targeted. Customer services are closely monitoring telephone answering performance with a view to improve response times while maintaining the quality of service provided. Performance is expected to improve in the coming months.”

The council said of it not meeting FOI requests on time: “91.9% of FOI requests were responded to within 20 days by Q2 2023/24, against the statutory target of 100%. Although the target has not been met, there has been an improvement from 89% in Q1 to 94% in Q2, indicating a commitment to prioritise FOI responses across the organisation. The FOI team have support from all the strategic directors, and the framework we have put in place of escalating to the Strategic Directors the week before any request is due is improving response levels.”

An Ealing Council spokesperson told EALING.NEWS:  “We are working hard to meet our targets with plans in place to improve performance. This includes a recent upgrade to our telephone network which will rectify issues impacting our call quality. When we experience longer than average wait times residents are offered a call back, these are completed on the same working day with the majority within 1 hour.”

They added: “There are also options for residents to contact and transact with the council though our customer portal, with the website also offering information and advice. This service is 24/7. Residents are also able to visit our customer hubs, located in Acton, Ealing, Northolt and Southall.”

Speaking to EALING.NEWS, leader of the opposition, Ealing Liberal Democrat Councillor Gary Malcolm said: “Liberal Democrats have challenged Ealing Labour to outline clear action plans to address residents’ concerns including picking up the phone to residents, giving them the information they have asked for in their freedom of information requests and addressing the large amount of fly-tipping and encouraging households to recycle more of their waste.”

Councillor Malcolm added: “Liberal Democrats want to see a clean and safe Ealing where the Council listens. Ealing Labour are failing on all those fronts and many residents are totally annoyed about how they are being treated.”

EALING.NEWS reached out to Ealing Council for a comment.

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