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Complaints will be investigated under either our Corporate Complaints policy or the Children’s or Adults Social Care policies.
The Ombudsman would usually expect you to have gone through our process before they will investigate the matter (although there may be exceptions). This is to give the service an opportunity to respond to concerns raised and reach a judgement and potential resolution. However, you can contact the Ombudsman at any time.
If a complaint has been accepted at stage one then you will receive a triage call within five working days from receipt. You will receive a written response if it is required within 20 working days. If we consider your complaint complex we may extend the response time but we will advise you of this.
At stage two you will receive a triage call within five working days and a written response within 20 working days or 40 working days if your complaint is considered complex.
In exceptional circumstances we may require more time to investigate your complaint. In this case we will discuss this with you and agree on an appropriate timescale.
Our social care complaints processes have statutory deadlines that we must meet. More information can be found on our Adult and Children's Social Care webpages.
- Once your complaint has been investigated we will write to you. Normally we will send the response via email as this is the quickest and most efficient method. However, if you do not have access to emails then we will send it in the post.
- You can submit your complaint online and it will go to the relevant service. They will check if it is eligible and contact you within five days.
Every complaint is looked at to see how best to deal with it. The corporate complaint policy has exemptions within it and we will let you know if your complaint cannot be considered. If this is the case, we will signpost you to more support/advice wherever possible.
- We will always try to respond in the format you have requested, and you can request alternative formats in line with the Equality Act. You can find more information about accessibility on our website. Where you have not indicated a preference we will respond via the online form and/or by email.
- This is acceptable as long as the person you are acting on behalf of gives us their written consent for you to do so.
- We have Corporate Standards that all services are expected to follow. Each service will also have their own targets and deadlines for specific tasks. We are currently reviewing the Customer Experience and Customer Journey with a view to setting out deadlines more clearly to customers.
We can deal with any complaints about:
- not providing a service or repeatedly missing a service
- unreasonable delays in providing a service
- providing a poor service
- eligible Adults Social Care Complaints via a separate statutory complaint process
- eligible Children's Social Care Complaints via a separate statutory complaint process
Our investigations will identify where there has been fault or 'maladministration' and whether this has caused you personal injustice. Any remedy we offer has been considered to ensure that it puts you back in the position you would have been if there had been no fault. We will also identify how it can prevent similar issues happening again.
We cannot look at complaints which you can take forward through a separate procedure, including:
- Planning Decisions
- Car Parking Fines
- Children and Adults social care complaints
- Environmental Issues
- Council Tax and Housing Benefit appeals (though we may look at fault in our administration of these)
- Data Protection and Freedom of Information Issues
- Complaints against a Councillor
- School Transport Appeals
- Refusal of an Education and Health Care Plan (EHCP) as there is a separate appeal route via SENDIST (Tribunal).
- Other matters that have an alternative appeal route (like a Tribunal)
- A matter where the customer or the Council started legal proceedings or has taken court action (this does not include cases where the customer has simply threatened legal proceedings against us)
- Complaints more than 12 months old where the issue was known about by the customer but not reported to us within 12 months may not be accepted, unless there is a good reason for the delay
- Complaints that involve insurance claims against us (although there may be some aspects of the complaint that could be investigated concurrently. For example an allegation that the service area delayed in sending information about how to make an insurance claim against us)
- Complaints about a member of staff that will instead be dealt with through our staff management or performance procedures
- Complaints from members of staff relating to personnel matters
- Allegations of fraud or corruption that would more properly be dealt with by our Anti Fraud procedures or Whistle Blowing procedure
- Complaints about a council policy (this will be treated as a comment)
- Criminal actions - these should be reported to the Police
We will always provide you with an explanation why your complaint will not, or cannot, be dealt with. You can find more information about accessibility on our website.
- You can escalate your complaint online via your account or by logging a new complaint and providing your existing reference number. Your complaint will be considered for escalation to stage 2 of our complaint process and you will be advised of our decision in writing. You can refer your complaint to the relevant Ombudsman at any time although they would usually expect you to have exhausted our complaints processes first.
You can tell us who you give permission to deal with your complaint on your behalf and we will liaise with them. We will need proof of your authority for them to act on your behalf.
You can approach the CAB for advice and support
You can request an advocate and we will inform you of the options available to you.
You can track progress of your complaint online via your account.
Or you can call the contact centre for an update on 0300 123 8123 or email email@example.com , just quote your reference number
If you have received a triage call you will know the name of the officer dealing with your complaint so just ask for them when you call.
- Your complaint will be passed to the relevant service to be reviewed by a senior officer who has not had prior involvement in the matter. If you remain unhappy the next stage will be for a senior manager from the service to investigate and it will also be independently reviewed by the Customer Relations Team.
We have been working to provide a more efficient approach to managing our customer contact. Our overall aim is to ensure that we are able to provide consistent and high quality services regardless of how you choose to contact us. This contact can be in many different ways:
- Calling our customer contact centre
- Visiting our various customer contact locations
- Completing simple requests and applications online
Creating an account helps us to link your contact with previous contact so that we can see whether you have raised the same of similar issue previously. It also helps you track your complaint as you will be able to add to your submission later on and/or login to see our response.
Please see our data protection statement.
If you want to have your complaint looked at anonymously let us know. If this happens, are investigation may be limited and you may not receive a full response.
All responses will be sent to you by secure email (Egress) which you can log into to access your response. If you have an account you can access your response through that.
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