The complaints procedure can vary depending upon the service area involved. If your complaint is about social care, Local Education Authority schools or school admissions you should check the processes which apply.
For other areas the process described below applies.
Stage 1 - Local resolution
Complaints are first responded to by the responsible service as we want to resolve complaints quickly and close to the point of service. Our aim is to provide a full response within 10 working days. If we are going to take longer we will let you know. We will also tell you how to progress your complaint if you remain unhappy.
Usually we will be able to resolve your complaint at this stage. If you are dissatisfied with the Stage 1 response you receive you can request a Stage 2 investigation.
Stage 2 - Investigation
Stage 2 deals with two types of complaint; those that have not been resolved at Stage 1 and those that are complex and require detailed investigation. The purpose is to establish if there has been any fault by the council in delivering its services.
You should make your request for a Stage 2 investigation to the Customer Relations Team. Your request will be passed to a Customer Relations Investigator who is independent of the service you are complaining about. They will review your complaint and:
- Carry out a further investigation, or
- Refer the request back to the service you are complaining about with a request to reconsider all, or specific parts, of your complaint.
If we decide to carry out a further investigation we will aim to provide a response within 20 working days. If the investigator needs to confirm details of your complaint with you it will be 20 working days from that point. If, for any reason, the investigator is unable to keep to this timescale they will keep you informed.
Complaints should be made within 12 months of a person becoming aware of the issue they want to make a complaint about. This is because it is easier to find out what happened and to put things right when complaints are received at the time something happens. As time passes it becomes more difficult to investigate complaints fairly and fully. This is because the staff members involved may have moved on, recollections can change and records may no longer be available. We may consider complaints outside this timescale in exceptional circumstances.
Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman
At any time during this process you may contact the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGO). The LGO is the final stage for complaints about councils and some other organisations providing public services in England. The LGO is independent of the council and provides a free service. Please note the LGO will normally expect you to have completed all stages of the council's complaints procedure before considering your complaint.
Further advice is available on their website www.lgo.org.uk or by calling their advice line 0300 061 0614.
To help us improve our service we may contact you to monitor how satisfied you were with the way your complaint was handled. If you do not wish to take part please advise our Customer Relations Team.
The personal data that we hold on you will be processed in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998. The personal information that you provide will only be used for the purposes of customer feedback monitoring and will not be disclosed to any outside person or organisation unless required to do so by law or by your consent.