Making a complaint
Wiltshire council is committed to listening to the view of customers and welcomes feedback whether positive or negative.
The aims of this complaints procedure are:
- to make sure that your complaint is taken seriously
- that you receive a comprehensive response within the timescales stated
- to keep you informed regarding the status of your complaint and explain any delays
- to give you a simple and effective way of raising your complaint
- to deal with complaints fairly and consistently
You can use the complaints procedure if your complaint is about a service provided by Wiltshire council.
You may wish to complain about:
- the service you are receiving
- the way you have been treated
- staff being discourteous
- being given wrong advice
You may have other reasons for dissatisfaction too.
Sometimes issues can be fixed without needing to make a formal complaint. You may find using a different route will provide you with a quicker response. For example if what you want to raise is a request for a service, it can be resolved directly by the service team rather than the complaints team.
Have a look at the About the council page.
A copy of the complaints procedure can be found in the council's constitutional pages.
Anyone who receives a service from Wiltshire council or has applied to use a service can make a complaint.
If you want someone else, for example:
- a friend
to complain to us on your behalf, we will work with them to resolve your complaint. We will always need to have evidence that you have given your permission for someone else to complain on your behalf.
We can also provide you with information about independent advocacy services that could give you advice and support.
To make a complaint you can:
If you need support in making a complaint we can help you do this.
When you make your complaint please provide as much information as possible, including the names of any officers you may have already spoken to about the matter and any reference number you may have relating to the complaint.
It is easier for us to look into a complaint if you make contact as soon as possible, when a complaint is older than 12 months it is more difficult to get all the facts. If we cannot investigate the complaint for any reason we will contact you to explain why.
When you first make a complaint you should receive an acknowledgement of it within two working days. We will tell you who will be responsible for providing you with a response and provide you with direct contact details.
It is the responsibility of the service team about who you are complaining to respond to you at this point. They understand the issues involved and have the opportunity of addressing concerns as quickly as possible.
The timescale for responding at stage one is 20 working days (10 working days for housing complaints) but we have the right to extend this by 10 working days (this means it can take up to 30 working days). If more time is needed, we will contact you to let you know when you can expect a response and the reason for the delay.
We would always encourage you to resolve your complaints directly with the team at stage one to promote a positive working relationship between you and Wiltshire council. However, we understand that there are some cases when a complaint should be taken straight to stage two of the complaints procedure.
If you feel there are reasons why you cannot resolve your complaint with the service team directly at stage one, please contact the customer complaints team and they will consider this further.
We hope that most complaints can be sorted at the first stage of the complaints procedure but if you are not happy with the full response that you get at stage one, you can ask for the complaint to be put through to stage two by contacting the corporate complaints team.
At stage two a complaints officer will make an independent investigation of your complaint.
The timescale for responding at stage two is 30 working days (20 for housing complaints) but we have the right to extend this by 10 working days (this mean it can take up to 40 working days). If the complaints officer requires more time, we will contact you and let you know when you can expect a response and the reasons for the delay.
We understand that you want your complaint resolved and we want to make sure you get a response as soon as possible. However to make sure all elements of your complaint are considered, we must make a thorough investigation and make sure that all information has been provided to us and that any legal requirement has been looked at. Only then can we produce a comprehensive and considered report for you.
Once you have received a response from stage two the complaints procedure has finished .
If you are unhappy with the response you get at stage two you should contact the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO): How to Complain who can investigate your complaint further.
The LGSCO is independent and the service is free and confidential. However, the Ombudsman will not normally investigate your complaint until the council has had the opportunity to fully investigate it.
In some cases relating to housing complaints the appropriate ombudsman may be the Housing Ombudsman. You can find details of what falls within the remit of the Housing ombudsman service: Which ombudsman for social housing complaints?. As a landlord member of the Housing Ombudsman, Wiltshire Council abides by its Housing Ombudsman Service: Complaint Handling Code.
In your stage two response you will be provided the details for the appropriate ombudsman service to contact should you remain dissatisfied.
Sometimes you will not be able to complain; here are some of the complaints we cannot consider (this list is not exhaustive):
- complaints organisations where there is a contract governing the relationship between the council and the complainant (for example, contractors)
- complaints by one part of the council or its affiliate organisations against another (e.g.: community area boards, maintained schools, governing bodies)
- complaints about personnel matters, including appointments, dismissals, pay, pensions and discipline
- complaints about a Council Member - there is a separate complaints process for this
- any matter that should be considered by a court, statutory tribunal or statutory appeals process
- if there are; or have been, legal proceedings in connection with the complaint, including proceedings taken by the council
- a complaint about school management issues - these are dealt with under the school's own procedures
- complaints about council policy, such as the level of council tax, how eligibility criteria are set, or the prioritisation of works
If you are not sure whether we can consider your complaint please contact the customer complaints team for advice.
If we cannot consider your complaint we will try to advise you of other appropriate routes available to you.
If you wish to make a comment or observation, rather than a complaint, you can contact the council and your comments will be forwarded to the relevant service.
When you make a complaint, we will log all the information about it, along with your name and contact details.
All information is treated as confidential and will only be collected and stored for the purposes of dealing with your complaint and improving our services.
We understand that making a complaint can be a result of a stressful and distressing event or situation and we will do everything we can to support you through the complaint but we will not tolerate unreasonable, aggressive or abusive behaviour. If an individual displays an unreasonable persistence in making a complaint or repeating issues when a response has been provided we will consider taking further action by applying the vexatious procedure.
Find out more about how we expect you to behave.