Cost of ‘serial complainers’ tops £16,000

Boston Borough Council's finance portfolio holder Coun Aaron Spencer
Boston Borough Council's finance portfolio holder Coun Aaron Spencer

The annual cost of dealing with ‘serial complainers’ has equated to Boston Borough Council’s tax income from around 90 Band A households according to the authority’s leading finance figure.

Finance portfolio holder Coun Aaron Spencer told councillors at last Monday’s Full Council meeting that the authority estimated it had spent almost £16,000 on dealing with contacts made under its Persistent and Vexatious Complaints Policy since it was introduced in April 2016.

Responding to a question from Lincolnshire County Councillor Paula Cooper, Mr Spencer said there had been 399 ‘contacts’ dealt with under the policy - more than one every working day.

These figures apply only to those people who have been listed under the policy, not day-to-day contact from the general public – additionally the complaints did not come from 399 seperate people.

He said that the council does not have a time recording system so officers could only estimate the time spent on each contact but a reasonable estimate was that ‘two hours per contact was appropriate’.

He said contacts were dealt with by a range of officers and estimated the average cost at about £20 per hour.

The total estimated cost in the last 18 months was £15,960 – £10,640 per year.

He equated that final figure to the council tax of 60 households at Band D, but added that because almost 50 per cent of council taxpayers are in Band A it would also equates to 90 of those households.

Mr Spencer said: “Whilst the council welcomes genuine complaints and will always act to use them to improve the service we deliver, every pound spent on vexatious complaints reduces the amount of time available for other matters.”

Following the meeting, Coun Spencer said: “It is not fair to council tax payers that their money is spent dealing with frivolous complaints that are not upheld from one or two individuals who are on a personal crusade.”