ARUN DISTRICT COUNCIL
OFFICIAL COMPLAINTS PROCEDURE - GUIDANCE NOTES
Working for the Public
Arun District Council aims to provide you with services of the highest quality possible within available resources. Our contact with you, our customers, is set on three basic principles: understanding, speed and fairness. BUT what should you do if we don’t measure up to your expectations?
Cause for complaint?
Arun District Council has a Complaints Procedure for dealing with complaints from members of the public. We believe it enables complaints to be dealt with in a fair and consistent way.
What is a complaint?
A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction, however made, about the standard of service, actions, or lack of action by the Council or its staff, affecting an individual customer or a group of customers.
Arun’s Complaints Procedure does not cover routine requests for a service or information, or matters for which there is a right of appeal or a legal remedy.
Putting things right
We would always prefer to put things right straight away if possible, rather than involve you filling out forms and waiting for a response. So if you are not happy with the way we have dealt with you, go back to the person, section or department who handled the matter in the first place.
The Stages to follow
If the person, section or department has not resolved the complaint then these are the stages to follow:
We will record your complaint in writing by asking you to fill in the complaint form, giving full details of the problem. The form is a simple one asking what went wrong and what you think the Council should do to put things right. It is helpful if you provide as much information as possible - for example, reference numbers and dates of any correspondence.
If you need it, a member of staff will help you fill in the form. We expect all staff to treat complaints positively and to give you the help you need in explaining the problem. The complaint forms are available at all Council offices. You can also obtain a form, and a postage paid envelope for its return, by telephoning us on Littlehampton (01903) 737709 or alternatively the form can be obtained via the Council website.
If you would prefer to record your complaint over the telephone, a member of staff will take down the details on the official form and send you a copy of what has been written down for your signature and return. Your complaint will be co-ordinated by the Corporate Complaints Administrator, who will send you a written acknowledgement within 5 working days, telling you the name of the Officer who will be dealing with your complaint.
The person investigating a Stage 1 complaint will be a senior member of staff from the service area concerned. He or she will send you, within 10 working days, in writing, either a full answer or a progress report (Planning Services have a response period of 25 working days).
If you are not satisfied with the reply you receive, then you should write to the Corporate Complaints Administrator (address below). The complaint will then be formally investigated by an Investigating Officer from a different service area. The Investigating Officer will talk to staff concerned, study reports, and correspondence, and may make a visit if the problem is one where there is something to be seen. Where possible, this investigation will be completed within 20 working days. If this is not possible, you will be sent a progress report indicating the timescales for completion of their investigation. At this stage, with the agreement of the complainant, the relevant Ward Councillors are made aware of the nature of the complaint.
When completed, the Stage 2 response will be passed to either the Chief Executive, Resources Director & Deputy Chief Executive or an Assistant Director, who will then review and sign off the response within an additional 5 working days. The Stage 2 response will then be sent to you, advising you of the decision of the Investigating Officer.
Housing Complaints Only after Stage 2
The Localism Act 2011 has changed the way in which certain Housing complaints are dealt with from April 2013. These changes involve the introduction of a Designated Person and/or referral to the Housing Ombudsman Service, rather than the Local Government Ombudsman. You will be notified on conclusion of Stage 2 whether your complaint should go to the Local Government Ombudsman or the Designated Person/Housing Ombudsman Service.
The Designated Person can assist in resolving your complaint by providing a fresh, impartial and independent perspective. The Council has identified the Chairman of the Housing & Customer Services Working Group as the Designated Person for Housing complaints.
The Housing Ombudsman Service is independent of the Council and investigates complaints about the Council’s Housing Landlord’s service only.
If you do not agree with the outcome of Stage 2 you can have your complaint referred to the Housing Ombudsman Service (HOS) in one of two ways:-
- Immediately after the completion of Stage 2, the complaint can be referred to the Designated Person or
- 8 weeks after the completion of Stage 2, you may progress your complaint to the HOS yourself without reference to the Designated Person.
If you require your complaint to be considered by the Designated Person, before being referred to the Housing Ombudsman Service you must write to the Chairman of the Housing & Customer Services Working Group to explain why you are not satisfied with the outcome of investigations into your complaint and requesting that it is referred to the Housing Ombudsman Service. The Designated Person will contact you to discuss ways of resolving your complaint - where possible, this will be completed within 15 working days. If this is not successful, your complaint will then be referred to the Housing Ombudsman Service.
If you do not wish for your complaint to be considered by the Designated Person, you must wait 8 weeks from the date of the Stage 2 response, before contacting the Housing Ombudsman Service yourself. Contact details for the Housing Ombudsman Service are:-
Housing Ombudsman Service
Telephone: 0300 111 3000 Fax: 020 7831 1942 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Stage 3 - not Housing complaints
If you do not agree with the decision at stage 2, then you have the right to pursue your complaint with the Local Government Ombudsman. The Local Government Ombudsman is an independent person who investigates allegations of maladministration causing injustice to the person who has complained. The contact details for the LGO Advice Team are:
Local Government Ombudsman
PO Box 4771
Telephone: 0300 061 0614
Fax: 024 7682 0001
Text: ’call back’ to 0762 480 3014
Complaints will be accepted by telephone, email or text, as well as in writing
The Local Government Ombudsman has a leaflet called Complaint about the Council? How to complain to the Local Government Ombudsman. You can get a copy by telephoning or writing to the address above, or you can download it from the Ombudsman’s website.
If you have an enquiry about the Local Government Ombudsman’s service you can telephone their Adviceline on 0300 061 0614 or visit the website at www.lgo.org.uk
The District Council’s Overview Select Committee receives an annual report on complaints. This sets out the number and type of complaints investigated during the period, and how many were found to be justified. It also explains some of the steps taken to act on complaints received during the year to improve services to the customer.
The main reason for having a complaints system is, of course, to make sure your problems can be resolved speedily, efficiently and helpfully. But there is another reason too. As a Council we want to learn from complaints - to use them in a positive way to improve our services to you.
Please address Official Complaints to: The Corporate Complaints Administrator, Arun District Council, General Administration, Arun Civic Centre, Maltravers Road, Littlehampton, West Sussex, BN17 5LF.
Follow this link to our Complaints form [pdf] 148KB