DOZENS of complaints about the county council were lodged with a local government watchdog last year, figures show.

A total of 32 complaints or enquiries about Worcestershire County Council were lodged with the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) in the year to March – down from 65 in the year before.

The body, which looks at complaints about councils and some other authorities, such as adult social care providers and education appeal panels, was closed to new complaints during the height of the first Covid lockdown between March and June 2020.

The highest number of concerns involved education and children's services at 15 and there were 14 cases related to adult social care.

The coronavirus pandemic has intensified existing problems, "widened cracks" and contributed to the most difficult time in several years for local authorities nationally, according to the LGSCO.

Different data shows nine cases deemed to warrant a full investigation by the LGSCO were concluded in 2020-21, with eight resulting in a complaint being upheld against the council.

The reasons for the complaints were not provided.

Education and children's services were the subject of the largest proportion of complaints and enquiries nationally, with more than 2,300 lodged last year.

A further 1,700 related to planning and development while more than 1,600 were about adult social care.

Pandemic-related disruption contributed to a significant drop in complaints and enquiries across England, with 11,800 received – down from 17,000 the year before.

But the proportion of all cases upheld nationally has grown and was 67 per cent in 2020-21, compared to 61 per cent in 2019-20.

That proportion was even higher for adult social care complaints, at 72 per cent, up from 69 per cent.

Assessments and care planning were the most common areas of complaint in relation to adult social care.

Michael King, local government and social care ombudsman, said the figures showed investigators were finding fault more often.

He added: “While the way local authorities dealt with the pressures of Covid-19 is still being played out in our casework, early indications suggest it is only widening the cracks that were already there."

He said the concerns "cannot be wholly attributed to the trials of the pandemic."