THE number of complaints to Newport council’s social services department rose for the third year running, a report shows.

But a report said that although the number of complaints had increased, it was pleasing to note that the majority were being resolved at the earliest stage.

Between April 1, 2011, and March 31, 2012, the department received 114 complaints, compared with 84 the year before – an increase of 35 per cent.

A report presented at Monday’s cabinet meeting showed the majority of complaints – 79 – were about children’s and family services, and the remaining 35 related to adult services.

Most were about the quality of service received, while others were about assessments, care management and the range of services available.

Of the total complaints, 102 were resolved, 12 were carried forward to 2012/13 and four required an in-depth investigation due to their serious nature.

Most cases – 105 – were resolved within ten working days by line managers, nine were dealt with by an independent investigator, and none had to be resolved by an independent review panel.

During the same period the department also received 43 formal compliments – 35 praising the children and family department and eight endorsing adult services.

The report said the “significant increase” in the complaints made to its child protection and family support team was an indication of the serious, complex and sensitive nature of the team’s work.

There was also an increase in complaints to the fostering team, which the authority said was due to the department piloting a new way of recording and monitoring complaints that would soon be rolled out to other departments.

The authority said staff will receive better training in how to deal with complaints, and added that the Welsh Government was looking at ways to simplify the complaints process for social services.