If you’re dissatisfied with your council tax, bin collection, or recreational spaces in your area, you’re well within your rights to raise this concern with your local authority. But which councils are the worst, and which receive the most complaints?
To find out, claims.co.uk investigated council complaint data from Local Government Ombudsman to uncover England’s most complained about councils, which types of concern are most common throughout the country, and which council has improved the most by using historical figures.
It is residents in Greater London who express the most dissatisfaction as nine of the ten most complained about councils are located there. Out of these, and receiving 45.3 complaints per 10,000 residents, Haringey is officially the council with the most complaints in England. However, a satisfactory uphold rate of 70.19% was achieved, suggesting that a lot of these comments were not ignored.
Lambeth council follows closely behind with 44.7 complaints per 10,000 residents. This comes after the South London council was fined £6,425 by the Housing Ombudsman in 2022 for negligence in handling housing problems. Because of this, it should be no surprise that the highest grievance category for this council is housing, with 433 complaints from 2016 to 2022.
Greater London’s Newham council is the third most complained about with 40.1 complaints per 10,000 residents and an upheld rate of 69.32%. This is a shocking 175.6% more than England’s least complained about council, Kingston upon Hull, which only has 2.6 complaints per 10,000 people.
We found that Ealing has the lowest percentage of upheld complaints among the rest of the top 10 councils with the most complaints per 10,000 people. From 2016 to 2022, only 142 complaints were upheld and 93 were not, meaning there was an upheld rate of only 60.42%.
In tenth place, and the only authority outside of London to feature in the top 10 most complained about councils, is Torbay council. Between 2016 and 2022, there have been 31.7 complaints per 10,000 residents.
It seems like Kingston upon Hull residents receive the best service with only 2.6 complaints against the council per 10,000. It also has the third-best uphold rate out of the top 10, with almost two-thirds of complaints being upheld from 2016 to 2022.
Northamptonshire councils are doing well too. Ranking in second and fifth place, Northampton Borough and South Northamptonshire councils both made into the top ten with 2.8 and 4.9 complaints per 10,000 respectively.
Bradford, named the UK city of culture 2025, received only 4.6 complaints per 10,000 residents between 2016 and 2022 as well as an uphold rate of 60.89%, meaning it ranks third in England.
Out of the top 10 least complained about councils in England, Carlisle City council has the worst uphold rate. Only one complaint has been recorded as being upheld with nine not so, meaning an investigation had shown the council had acted correctly or had already worked to put things right.
Erewash Borough council completes the top 10. This Derbyshire council has just 5.3 recorded complaints per 10,000 residents, over 158% lower than the most complained about council of Haringey.
With Wycombe District council receiving 3.8 complaints fewer per 10,000 residents over the years and a significant 77.91% decrease in the number of recorded concerns, it is officially the most improved council in England.
South Ribble Borough and Newcastle-under-Lyme councils are in second and third place for the most improved. While the Staffordshire council of Newcastle-under-Lyme has an impressive 53.73% fewer complaints from 2017 to 2022, the Lancashire council of South Ribble convincingly beats this with a 63.46% decrease.
The final two in the top five most improved councils in England are Knowsley Metropolitan and Eden District. They have seen a decrease in complaints by 53.66% and 53.57% respectively.
Although you probably expected Greater London to top the list of most complained about counties, you may be surprised to see the Isle of Wight in second place, receiving 22.8 complaints per 10,000 residents. In this county, adult social care is the most prominent concern with 81 recorded complaints.
In third is Cornwall with 22.5 complaints per 10,000 people. Cornwall has the eighth-highest council tax bills in the UK but there were still 103 recorded housing complaints between 2016 and 2022.
The West Midlands and Berkshire round out the top five most complained about counties with 21.1 and 19.8 complaints per 10,000 residents respectively. Both counties have the same category with the most concerns – education and children’s services.
In England, education and children’s services have received 21,203 complaints from 2016 to 2022, 23% more than adult social care, with 16,232 complaints, and 40% more than housing with 14,074.
The complaint category of housing, which covers anything from social housing repairs dissatisfaction to anti-social behaviour, is in fourth place. There have been 13,370 complaints across England since 2016—over 161% more than the lowest category of “other”.
There are three other complaint categories that have over 11,000 complaints:
“Council tax increased by an average of £67 for Band D properties in 2022 amid the cost of living squeeze. Because of this tax hike, residents rightly have rising expectations towards their local authorities to provide better services. Hence, although taking on your council might seem daunting, it’s vital to know your right as a resident and speak out if you feel that your council has failed to deliver a service.
“Your first step should always be contacting the service provider in question. And if you are not happy with the solution provided, the Local Government Ombudsman will come as a final resort. Be sure not to delay and lodge your complaints as soon as possible. Moreover, stay polite throughout the process and provide clear evidence to support your claim as the Local Government Ombudsman’s decision is final—your case won’t be reviewed again unless new evidence comes to light.”
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