Local Government Ombudsman

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This page gives extra information for people who want to complain on behalf of somebody else. For all other information on the complaints process click Making a complaint

Can I complain on somebody’s behalf?

If they are able to, we normally expect the person directly affected to complain to us. However, we encourage complaints on behalf of somebody else if the person affected is not able to complain themselves. This can often be because they are too young, have a disability or are without mental capacity.

Anybody can help somebody else complain, but you must have their permission or a right to act on their behalf.

When should I complain to the LGO on behalf of somebody?

We usually expect somebody to complain to us no longer than 12 months after becoming aware of the issue. There are some exceptional circumstances where we will decide to investigate complaints older than 12 months old. This could be where a person was not able to complain, for example due to ill health.

What extra information should I provide?

If you are from an advice agency and are complaining on someone else’s behalf it would be helpful if you could provide us with a direct dial number, and the hours you work, so we can contact you easily.

How do you decide whether you will investigate the complaint?

The process for deciding whether we will investigate has two stages. First we decide whether the law allows us to. Click How to complain for information on what we can and cannot investigate.

In the second stage we apply a number of tests. The most important of these is assessing the level of injustice. We will not normally investigate a complaint unless there is good reason to believe that the complainant has suffered significant personal injustice as a direct result of the actions or inactions of the organisation involved.

Our Assessment Code explains this process in more detail, although people do not need to read this before making a complaint.

How might the investigation improve things for others?

In all our investigations we will consider whether action needs to be taken to avoid the same things happening to others. Our recommendations may include:

  • Staff training and awareness
  • Reviewing policies and procedures
  • Considering whether others have been similarly affected and warrant a remedy

We publish our decisions and complaints data in order to encourage wider learning and support the scrutiny of local services.

Where can I find more examples of the type of decisions you make?

We publish all the decisions we make. You can search these decisions by organisation or subject.

I am a councillor or MP. Can I complain?

You can help somebody in your area to complain, firstly to the council or service provider. If the issue is not sorted out you can help somebody use our service. You must have their permission to do so.

You can only complain about your own council in your capacity as a ‘member of the public’, being somebody directly affected by a council service you receive.

We usually can’t investigate complaints about the conduct of councillors, unless the issue is in relation to the councillor carrying out an administrative function of the council that has caused the person complaining an injustice. Since the closure of Standards for England in 2012, all authorities must have local arrangements to investigate complaints about standards.

I am a councillor or MP. How do I find complaints data to help me scrutinise services?

Click Councils' performance to find complaint statistics by local authority. Our Focus Reports, which concentrate on thematic issues we see from our complaints, include suggested questions for elected members to consider asking their authorities. You can also search our decisions by authority.

Date Updated: 07/04/15