What we can and cannot look at

What we can investigate

We can investigate complaints about most council services, even if the service is outsourced to another organisation to provide, and privately funded adult social care.

We look at whether there is fault in the way organisations make decisions. Below are the common issues we can look at:

We look at all adult social care complaints, including care arranged and paid for privately without the council being involved.

See our general information about complaining about adult social care:

How to complain about adult social care and support

We also have more detailed information on what we can and cannot investigate about the following services:

We also have information and resources for organisations we investigate, including template complaint procedures and FAQs:

Resources for care providers

Fact sheet for NHS organisations about the Joint Working Team

We deal with complaints about most children’s social care services, except matters which have been decided in court. See what we can and cannot investigate about the following services:

We also have general information about children's services complaints depending on who you are:

Extra help for children or young people making a complaint

Information for professionals working with children and young adults

We are able to investigate some school related issues in which the local council is usually the responsible body:

Academies operate independently of local authorities, and we cannot currently look at complaints about them. You should speak to the academy initially about how to complain. They will provide you with a copy of their complaints procedure. If you have a complaint about an academy that you have been unable to resolve, you can write to the Secretary of State for Education. There are some exclusion and admission complaints we can look at if a school has recently converted to an academy - see the relevant information above for more details.

We deal with complaints about most council housing services other than social housing. The Housing Ombudsman deals with complaints about social housing, including councils' role as social landlords.

Which ombudsman for social housing complaints?

See what we can and cannot investigate about the following services:

We also deal with complaints about some other organisations.

What we cannot investigate

The law does not allow us to investigate some issues. We cannot usually look at a complaint if:

  • you have left it more than 12 months since knowing about the problem
  • the matter has not affected you personally or caused you an injustice
  • the issue affects most people in the council's area
  • you have, or had, a right to appeal or take legal action and we think it is reasonable for you to have done so. This might be to:
    • a tribunal (such as the Housing Benefit Appeals Service)
    • a government minister (such as a planning appeal)
    • the courts
  • it is about personnel matters (such as your employment or disciplinary issues)

We are not an appeals body or regulator for councils and care providers. We look at whether organisations have followed the right steps to make decisions. This means we cannot overturn decisions made by organisations if they were made in the correct way.

We decide whether we can or should investigate your complaint.

How we decide what to investigate

The law says we have choice about what complaints to investigate. Once we decide whether we can investigate your complaint, we look at whether we should do so. For more information on this, visit How we deal with your complaint 

What are the common things that go wrong?

This doesn't include everything, but some common examples of fault are:

  • Delay
  • Poor record keeping
  • Failure to take action
  • Failure to follow procedures or the law
  • Poor communication
  • Giving out misleading information
  • Failure to investigate
  • The organisation not doing what it said it would

<go back to steps to making a complaint

Are you thinking of complaining to us?

Find out how to make a complaint to us by reading our step by step process

If you are an existing complainant please

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