Complaints, compliments and suggestions policy

Policy details

Our complaints procedure aims to provide a timely, simple and accessible process for resolving complaints. If a complaint cannot be resolved informally or at the first point of contact it will progress to stage one of the complaints procedure.

Informal stage

The customer will be contacted by the service concerned either by telephone or email and asked about the outcome they are seeking from their complaint. This should normally be within 3 days of receiving the complaint. The officer is to assess whether an informal resolution can be provided to the complaint. If not the complaint should be documented and passed to Stage 1.

The formal complaints procedure consists of two stages.

Stage one

This is the first stage of the procedure complaints may be made in writing, in person, by telephone or online. Complaints are acknowledged within five working days.

An appropriate officer will acknowledge the complaint, discuss the complaint with the complainant if this has not been undertaken at the informal stage, investigate and normally send a full response within twenty working days. The twenty working days start from the date the council receives the complaint.

Where matters are likely to take more time to investigate or resolve due to the complexity of the complaint, the investigating officer will keep the complainant informed of progress throughout the twenty working day time frame, and until the matter is dealt with.

Stage two

If the complainant is not satisfied with the stage one investigation and outcome, they may request that the complaint progress to stage two. To progress to a stage two complaint, we encourage complainants to contact us within twenty working days after receiving their stage one response. This is to ensure that staff involved have all the information readily available and that the complaint remains fresh in their mind to assist the investigating officer.

At this stage the complaint is passed to a head of service to oversee a stage two investigation. An officer will be assigned as the independent investigator and will complete the investigation on behalf of the head of service, who will oversee the complaint.

The head of service will speak to the complainant in the early part of the investigation, in order to scope the review of the complaint. The investigator will prepare a stage two report under the direction of a head of service on their findings for review by the chief executive and a draft response to the complainant.

The response will be sent within twenty working days, except where matters are likely to take more time to investigate or resolve due the complexity of the complaint. Where this applies the investigating officer will keep the complainant informed of progress within the twenty working day time frame and until the matter is dealt with.

If the complaint includes the chief executive it will be passed to the monitoring officer. If the complaint is of a very serious nature than an external investigator may be brought in or the complaint referred directly to the ombudsman.

All complaints will be treated in confidence. Information will only be shared with those parties involved in resolving the complaint, unless permission is given by the complainant to share details.

Outcome

There are three possible findings from a review of a complaint.

  • Complaint not upheld
  • Complaint partially upheld
  • Complaint upheld

Remedies

If a complaint is partly or fully upheld, the council will consider a number of remedies, or combination of remedies. Remedies need to be proportionate, appropriate, deliverable and reasonable. The most appropriate remedy will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Local Government Ombudsman

If all stages of the internal complaints procedure have been completed and the complainant is still unhappy with the outcome, they can refer the matter to the Local Government Ombudsman who will carry out an independent investigation of the complaint.

The Local Government Ombudsman will expect the complainant to have exhausted our internal complaints procedure before approaching them.

Complaints to the ombudsman should be made within twelve months of the affected person becoming aware of the matters that gave rise to the complaint, although there may be circumstances where this may be extended.

The Local Government Ombudsman can be contacted at the following address:

The Local Government Ombudsman, PO Box 4771, Coventry, CV4 0EH