How we deal with your complaint

First look at your complaint

If you register a complaint with us, the first thing we do is check that you have:

  • come to the right place
  • given us all the information we need
  • complained formally to the organisation involved and given it a reasonable chance to respond
  • got consent to complain, if you are complaining on someone's behalf

If we need more information at this stage we will contact you. 

Deciding whether to investigate your complaint

If we are satisfied you have taken the steps above, we will allocate your complaint to an investigator in our Assessment Team. They will decide whether we can, and whether we should, look at your complaint in more detail. We will then write to you to explain whether we have decided to investigate your complaint.

Our service is free to use. But we have to decide how to best use our publicly funded resources. We cannot investigate all complaints we receive.

We are more likely to investigate complaints where the issues:

  • have had a serious or long-term impact on people’s lives
  • affect many other people

We are less likely to investigate complaints where:

  • the issues have caused minor irritation or upset
  • we cannot ask the organisation to do what you want them to

For more information about how we decide whether or not to investigate your complaint, read our Assessment Code

Investigating your complaint

If we decide your complaint needs more detailed work, we will pass it to our Investigation Team and tell you who will deal with your complaint.

We may then ask you and the organisation you’re complaining about for more information. We will keep you updated on the progress with your complaint.

We do not take sides, when we decide to investigate we look fairly at what happened, carefully considering the evidence.

When we think we have enough information to make a fair decision, we will share a draft decision with you. We can share information from the organisation, which we have used to make our decision. But we cannot share sensitive information, for example where it is about other people. We will give you a chance to comment or give us any further information you want us to consider before we make a final decision.

When we make a final decision we will send you a short report that explains the reasons behind our decision. We will send a copy of the decision to the organisation you complained about.

Our decisions are final but we have procedures for Challenging our decisions and Complaints about our service

If you need help using our service

We will do our best to communicate with you in the way you have requested. However we must use public money carefully so what we can offer will depend on our resources (for example staff time and money).

For more information see our Reasonable Adjustments Policy.

See our leaflets page for information about our service in EasyRead and other formats.

Click the 'Speak' button on each page to open the Reach Deck toolbar which can read our website aloud and translate the text into different languages. You don't need to download any software to do this.

How long does it take?

We receive lots of complaints and we deal with them in the order we receive them. This means there will be times when your complaint is waiting to be allocated to one of our investigators to work on it. However we do our best to make decisions as quickly as we can.

It is particularly important to us, to tell you as soon as possible whether we will investigate your complaint. We don't always manage it, but we try to:

  • take a first look at your complaint and check it is ready for us within one day
  • allocate your complaint to an investigator and decide whether we will investigate it in detail within 4 weeks

If we decide your complaint needs more detailed work, we will allocate it to another investigator and carry out the investigation. Every complaint is different so it is hard to say how long your investigation will take. We need to gather enough information to make a fair decision and there may be periods when we give the organisation time to respond. It can take many months from start to finish for a complaint that goes through all our stages.

To speed up the process as much as possible, please make sure you respond to our requests for comments or information as soon as you can.

Publishing our decisions

We publish most decisions on our website six weeks after we complete them. For more information go to What the outcome will be

<go back to the steps to making a complaint

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