Compliments and feedback
If you have been impressed by the way we have provided our services, or if our staff have excelled in their duties, we would like to hear from you. Compliments will be passed on to staff so they will know their efforts were appreciated.
The Council strives to provide high quality services to the best of our ability to all our residents and customers in line with the Customer Charter. We recognise however that we do not always meet the standards we set ourselves.
This is the Council’s formal complaints procedure and it should help you tell us if you think something has gone wrong with any of the services or facilities we provide and look at how we can improve. The Council also welcomes suggestions for making service improvements.
Your complaints are important as they help us identify where things have not gone as well as we would want them to. We monitor and record all formal complaints received and a quarterly report is made to our Standards and Audit Committee about them so that we might learn from what you tell us and share best practice.
All complaints are dealt with fairly and impartially and in strict confidence in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulations and we will not deal with you any less favourably because you have made a complaint. You can also have access to information we hold about you by making a Subject Access Request under the Data Protection Act 2018.
What is a complaint?
The Council has adopted the following definition of a complaint which has been suggested by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman: ‘an expression of dissatisfaction about a Council service (whether the service is provided directly by us or by one of our partners/contractors) which requires a response.’
What is not a complaint?
A complaint is not:
- A service request (please report it online)
- A request for information
- An explanation of Council policy
What is the point of having a formal complaints procedure?
Having a formal process in place enables us to identify where anything has gone wrong, to say sorry if we have made a mistake and put it right and learn from it.
Who can complain?
Any resident, tenant or service user. Alternatively, you may represent an organisation or be an advocate for a service user affected by the way our services have been provided.
Complaints about Councillors
If you have a complaint about one of your local Councillors, it will be dealt with under a separate procedure by the Council’s Monitoring Officer
How to make a complaint
We would like to think that in the majority of cases complaints can be resolved by speaking to the member of staff who dealt with you in the first place. We would encourage you to do this as it might put matters right quickly and with the minimum of fuss.
If this does not resolve your complaint, or if you are unhappy with our response, then you can complain formally using our two stage complaints procedure.
You can make a complaint by
- Completing our e-form and submitting this online
- Emailing or writing to us
- By telephoning us on 01932 838383, or
- By visiting us at the Civic Centre, Station Road, Addlestone, KT15 2AH during normal office hours
If you need help with making a complaint we can assist you.
If you lodge an intention to make a complaint, we reserve the right to regard it as ‘out of time’ if, after 4 weeks, you then do not provide us with the full details in order for us to investigate and respond. However, each case will be treated on its merits.
Stage 1 complaints
We will acknowledge your complaint within 3 working days, setting out what we believe your complaint is and how we aim to resolve it and the member of staff dealing with your complaint will either provide you with a full response within 10 working days or advise when you can expect a full response usually using the method you would like to be contacted by.
Sometimes a complaint might be more complex and requires further investigation which may make our 10 day response target difficult to meet. If this happens, we will keep you informed and advise you when we hope to respond.
We will apologise if we have made a mistake and advise you when and what we will do to correct our mistake in the full response, followed by keeping you updated when the agreed actions have been completed.
Stage 2 complaints
If you are not happy with our response you can make a stage 2 complaint which will be dealt with by a head of service – usually at Corporate Head level. The head of service will review your complaint and the stage 1 response and will respond to you within 10 working days. Once again, if your complaint requires further investigation, we shall advise you of any delays.
The conclusion of stage 2 is the end of our formal complaints procedure.
What to do if you are still not satisfied
You are free at any time during the complaints procedure to contact your local Councillor. Whilst they will not deal directly with a complaint about the way the Council provides a service, your Councillor can talk to you about your complaint and help you in making contact with us.
Details of your local councillors and how to contact them is on our website, noticeboards, from our staff or from local libraries.
If you are still dissatisfied at the conclusion of our Stage 2 process You can ask the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (the Ombudsman) to review your complaint. You usually have up to 12 months to do this, starting from the date you first knew about the matter you complained about, not from the date of our communication to you. The Ombudsman will normally only consider complaints made within that time but can decide to look at older complaints if there is a good reason to do so. The Ombudsman looks at individual complaints about councils, all adult social care providers (including care homes and home care agencies) and some other organisations providing local public services. The Ombudsman investigates matters fairly and impartially and is free to use. There are some matters the Ombudsman cannot or will not investigate. In these cases they will explain clearly the reason for their decision. The Ombudsman’s contact details are below. You will need to provide them with a copy of our last communication to you, and our earlier responses to you, so they can consider your complaint.
Telephone: 0300 061 0614, Opening hours: Monday to Friday - 10am to 4pm (except public holidays) Website: www.lgo.org.uk
Complaints about Housing
The Council’s landlord function comes under the jurisdiction of the Housing Ombudsman and there is a separate Housing Complaints Policy
The Housing Ombudsman Service (HOS) will look at housing related complaints. Full details about the process can be found on the HOS website at www.housing-ombudsman.org.uk Alternatively, you can contact the HOS on 0300 111 3000
In certain cases, the Council reserves the right to consider complaints as unreasonably persistent and decline to respond to further approaches. The decision to classify a complainant as unreasonably persistent will be taken by a senior officer. Further details can be found on the Council’s website.
We require your personal data in order to record and consider your complaints and compliments and to contact you. This is a public task which we have a duty to fulfil. We will only share your information if it is necessary, for resolving your complaint or we deemed the sharing compatible with the purpose your information was provided. We will not further share your information without your consent. Your information will be kept securely for 4 years (complaints) and 2 years (compliments).
Complaints and compliments are regularly reported to the Standards and Audit Committee, but any personal information is redacted. The Committee is interested in all the feedback we get, positive and negative so that trends can be identified, lessons learned, and good practice shared.
This procedure has been drawn up using guidance issued by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman and a review of our own working practices.
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