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What we can and cannot look at

What you can complain about

We look at complaints about most council services. These include:

We can look at complaints about council services no matter who provides them. For example, when a council pays a private company to provide some of its services, we can investigate that complaint as if the council provided the service directly.

We look at any type of adult social care complaint. This includes care arranged and paid for privately with no council involvement.

If a complaint is about both health and social care services, our Joint Working Team can carry out a joint investigation with the Health Service Ombudsman with a single contact point for you.

See complaint fact sheets homepage for more detailed guidance on the common types of complaint we can investigate.

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 cannot insist they take disciplinary action.

The common things that go wrong

This doesn't include everything, but some common examples of service failure 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