News : Public Left On Hold for Up to 20 Minutes After Staff Cuts
Sutton, UK, May 24, 2016 -- Callers to Sutton Council are being left waiting on the phone for longer following staff cuts.
Calls to the council’s contact centre this year have been placed on hold for more than a minute longer on average than two years ago. Since 2014, the staff headcount in the centre has fallen from 15 to 13.
The drop in employee numbers has coincided with a gradual lengthening of waiting times, which have risen from an average of two minutes and 40 seconds in 2013 to four minutes and 19 seconds so far in 2016.
On some occasions this year, callers have been placed on hold for more than 20 minutes, which the council blamed on an "unusually large volume of calls".
A spokesman said: "We are sorry some residents had to wait that long."
He added: "Every contact online rather than by phone call saves the Sutton taxpayer £2, which is why we have improved our website to make it easier for residents to find information and report issues online where appropriate.
"We are planning further improvements to our website such as the ability for residents to track the progress of any issues they report online."
But Tony Shields, deputy leader of the Conservative opposition, suggested moving services online was "making telephone contact very hard for elderly people and those who do not have the best internet access".
He added: "Sutton Council needs to dramatically improve.
"It is the natural conservative instinct to be against needlessly hiring staff, but in this case it has not worked and the service has suffered.
"The council need to look at the number they laid off and re-hire because the service is very poor."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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