How to Complain

Are you thinking of complaining to us?

Resources on this page explain when you should register a complaint with us and how to do it in the most efficient way

Watch our video

Read the steps

The Steps


Complain to the organisation involved

You should complain to the organisation first to give them a chance to sort out your problem. You should go through all stages of the organisation’s complaints process. See our Top tips for making a complaint

Our service is free. You can complain on someone’s behalf but you must have their permission or a right to act on their behalf.


Check the things we can and cannot look at

Your complaint must be about something we can investigate. We look at complaints about most council services, all types of adult social care services even if it is paid for privately, and some other organisations providing local services.

In most cases, we can only investigate if you:

  • complain to us within 12 months of becoming aware of the matter
  • can show how the thing the organisation did wrong had a significant impact on you - we call this 'personal injustice'

Check it is the right time to complain to us

If you have completed the organisation’s complaints process and are not satisfied with its response, you can complain to us.

If you have complained to the organisation but have not had a response within a reasonable time, you can also complain to us. We can then ask the organisation about your complaint before deciding what to do. We think up to 12 weeks is usually a reasonable time. But this may be longer for complaints about children's services, which follow a statutory process.


Register a complaint

If you do not have an account, and would like to check if we can consider your complaint, please register an account and complete our online complaint form.

If you already have an account, please log in.

Find more information on the best way to register a complaint - including what to do if you need help to complain online or want general advice on the complaints process.


How we deal with your complaint

We will take a first look at your complaint to check it is ready for us to decide whether to investigate. We will tell you what will happen next.

Then we will allocate an investigator to decide whether we can or should investigate your complaint. We will look at whether it is about something we are allowed to investigate and if it is serious enough for us to justify an investigation. If we investigate, we may ask you and the organisation for more information.

We will ask you if you need extra help to use our service and do our best to communicate with you in the way you have requested. Find more information in our Reasonable Adjustments Policy


What the outcome will be

When we investigate, we can decide whether the organisation was at fault. If we decide you suffered injustice because of the organisation’s faults, we will recommend how it should put things right for you and possibly other people in the same situation. We can also ask the organisation to change how it works to stop the same thing happening in future.

We publish our decisions, but don’t use real names or reveal the identity of people involved.

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