The Ombudsman launched an investigation into three complaints related to Cardiff Council’s “Assisted Lift” waste collection service.

The service was established to provide help for residents who are unable to move their waste onto the street for collection in the usual way due to disability, some medical conditions or pregnancy.

The three complainants – Mrs D, Mrs F and Miss P – all complained that the service consistently did not meet their needs (or in Miss P’s case, her mother’s needs) as vulnerable residents. They also said that the Council did not respond adequately to them when they raised their concerns and complained about the service.

The Ombudsman upheld these complaints. The investigation found that the Council’s “Assisted Lift” service to the residents was not reliable, with waste collections missed over extended periods of time and bins being left at times in unsafe positions. This not only caused unnecessary stress to the residents but also often led to a build-up of waste at their properties, causing health and safety hazards.  The Ombudsman also found that the Council did not properly acknowledge or act on the concerns raised about the service.

Commenting on the report, Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, Nick Bennett, said:

‘During the last 3 years, we have received a number of very similar complaints about Cardiff Council’s “Assisted Lift” service.  Despite the Council’s commitment to take action to resolve residents’ concerns, we continued to receive complaints about the same issues, pointing to systemic problems with this service. This is exactly what we found during our investigation.

Two of the complainants in this case were in their 90s. It is simply unacceptable that they should suffer the indignity of such an unreliable service for such a prolonged period of time.

It is equally unacceptable that the Council should fail to properly acknowledge or act on the residents’ concerns, despite receiving repeated formal complaints and hundreds of calls. I can well understand why one of the complainants in this case told us that she was “at her wit’s end” in relation to her dealings with the Council.

In accepting the residents’ applications for the Assisted Lift service, the Council committed to help them access its waste collection services.  By persistently failing to address missed collections and other problems with the Assisted Lift service, the Council failed to honour that commitment.

We are very concerned that these problems might be affecting other vulnerable residents.  This is reflected in our recommendations for the Council to rapidly improve its Assisted Lift service for the benefit of all residents.’

The Ombudsman recommended that the Council should take steps, including the payment of financial redress, to rectify individual injustice to the complainants as well as:

  • take actions to ensure that similar complaints received about the service from vulnerable residents are handled consistently and effectively
  • carry out a comprehensive review of the service
  • produce an action plan for improvements and share details of proposed actions with all service users.

Cardiff Council has accepted the Ombudsman’s findings and conclusions and has agreed to implement these recommendations promptly.

To read the report, click here.