Corporate Compliments, Complaints and Feedback

Corporate Compliments, Complaints and Feedback

Complete our online form to make a complaint, compliment us, or leave a comment.

The views of our residents, service users and customers are important to us. Breckland Council is committed to high standards of customer care, service delivery and performance.  If we do well, it is always good to know this, but if we fail to do this we want to know about it so that we can deal with the specific problem, take steps to avoid it happening again and improve our services.

Introduction

The views of our residents, service users and customers are important to us. Breckland Council is committed to high standards of customer care, service delivery and performance.  If we do well, it is always good to know this, but if we fail to do this we want to know about it so that we can deal with the specific problem, take steps to avoid it happening again and improve our services.

The following outlines Breckland Council’s procedure for handling compliments, complaints and feedback.

Objectives

This procedure aims to:

  • provide an effective means for customers/service users and their representatives to complain if they are dissatisfied with the service they receive
  • ensure complaints are dealt with in a courteous and efficient manner and are resolved without avoidable delay
  • provide customer service users with a formal method of challenging decisions we have made
  • obtain information about the public’s perceptions about our services, to inform future policy and service planning
  • maintain records of complaints made so that regular reviews can be produced for internal monitoring and public accountability

What is the difference between a compliment, complaint or feedback?

It is important to understand the difference between a compliment, a complaint and feedback as this may affect the way it is handled and what you can expect from this process.

What is a compliment?

Breckland Council staff and Members are always pleased to get positive feedback when things go well. You may have noticed an improvement in a service you receive or found that a member of staff were exceptionally helpful to you. A compliment may relate to an individual or to a piece of work that the Council has done, either way, it would be lovely to hear from you.

What is a complaint?

For the purpose of this Procedure, Breckland Council accepts the Local Government Ombudsman’s definition:-

“An expression of dissatisfaction about service, action or lack of action, however made, provided directly by the Council or by a contractor or partner, affecting an individual resident or a group of residents, that requires a response.”

(Guidance on Running a Complaints System - Guidance on Good Practice)

Breckland Council’s Corporate Compliments, Complaints & Feedback Procedure deals with all complaints where there is not a specific or legal procedure to deal with the matter.  The following are the categories of complaints that fall within this Procedure:

  • Failure to consider relevant matters in coming to a decision or implementing it
  • Employee attitudes and the actions of individual employees
  • Delays in responding, or complaints about the administrative process.
  • Failure to provide a service properly or at all
  • Failure to fulfil statutory responsibilities – but not disagreements with those powers or duties.
  • Bias or unfair discrimination.

You may complain about the standard of the service received because:

  • We have not provided the service to the standard which you think is reasonable, or
  • We are doing something which you did not want us to do, or
  • We are carrying out our duties in an unsatisfactory way, or
  • Our staff or contractors are behaving in an unacceptable way (including rudeness, violence or aggression), or
  • We repeatedly fail to do something which we have been asked to  do, or
  • We fail to do something which you think we should have done, even if we were not actually asked to do it.

What is not a complaint?

A request for a service that is made for the first time.  For example, if you report your neighbours for making a noise and we fail to investigate your complaint then it becomes a complaint.

This Procedure will not to be used for the following:

  • Complaints which are essentially disagreements with statutory powers or duties, council policies or decisions in themselves, rather than the way they have been carried out.
  • Complaints against individual employees which arise directly from the resident’s dissatisfaction with a Council policy or decision.
  • A planning or development control matter, or housing or council tax benefit or homelessness matter where a right of objection exists, unless the complaint relates specifically to the way the matter has been administered.
  • A matter which is, or could reasonably be, the subject of court or tribunal proceedings, or which is in the hands of the Council’s insurers.
  • Complaints against district, town or parish councillors.  There is a separate complaints procedure for dealing with these complaints – see below.

Complaints about Councillors

Under the Localism Act 2011 the Council has adopted arrangements for dealing with allegations of failure to comply with the Code of Conduct by district, town or parish councillors.  If you wish to complain about a councillor please contact the Standards Officer.

What is feedback?

You may wish to give your views on a matter of Council Policy that has already been agreed democratically in accordance with the Council’s Constitution. This will be treated as feedback and passed to the relevant service area.

Feedback may also include suggestions. If you have a suggestion that you wish to submit to the Council, please submit this to the relevant service area directly.

How do I make a compliment, complaint or feedback?

You can make your compliment, complaint or feedback in the way that is most convenient to you.

  • Call in person at any of the Breckland Council offices in Dereham or Thetford, or our Customer Service Centres in Attleborough, Dereham, Swaffham, Thetford or Watton
  • Telephone us on: 01362 656870
  • E-mail us: complaints@breckland.gov.uk
  • Write to us at: Breckland Council, Standards Officer, Member Services, Elizabeth House, Walpole Loke, Dereham, Norfolk.  NR19 1EE

Our opening times are: Monday to Thursday from 9.00am to 5.00pm and  Friday from 9.00am to 4.30pm.

If we don't have all the information we need to deal with your complaint we will have to contact you to request it. This adds to the time taken to resolve it. So before you make a complaint take a little time to prepare what it is you want to say. Be specific and focus on the issue - what, why, when, where, who - and briefly explain all the relevant circumstances surrounding your complaint.

It is important that the Council knows your name and how and where to contact you to enable your complaint to be investigated and a response sent to you.

Anonymous Complaints

Anonymous complaints will be recorded and considered. Action may be limited if there is insufficient information available to ensure a full and fair investigation. An anonymous complaint may be investigated and may be acted upon at our discretion.

Should you fear that we will withhold services, or treat them less favourably if you complain openly, we will, if required, assist in finding support outside the Council.

Rights

This Corporate Compliments, Complaints & Feedback Procedure does not affect the right of an individual or organisation to approach a local councillor or Member of Parliament for advice or assistance. If this results in a complaint being made by or on behalf of an individual, it will be dealt with using this procedure.

Delays

It becomes increasingly difficult to ensure a fair investigation after a period of time has lapsed since the original incident occurred.  Complaints reported after 12 months of the matter arising will only be investigated if the Monitoring Officer considers there are special circumstances.

Complaints against Staff

If you are making a complaint about a Council employee and if action or behaviour is found valid then the issue will be referred to the appropriate Director and will be dealt with under the Corporate Human Resource Policy/Procedure.

Management of unreasonable complaint behaviour

Unfortunately, there are a small number of complainants who pursue their complaints in ways that are unreasonable and/or who take up an unwarranted amount of Council resources.

In such circumstances, the Council may choose to apply its Habitual and Vexatious Complaints Procedure.  Such action is very rare and not taken lightly and complainants will be informed before any restrictions are applied to them in order that they might moderate their behaviour.

How will the Council deal with my complaint?

All complaints will be treated fairly and given equal importance.

Breckland Council aims to acknowledge your complaint within 5 working days following receipt of your complaint.

The Commission of Local Administration in England believes it should take no longer than 12 weeks from receipt of a complaint to resolution.

Breckland Council has two stages to its complaints procedure:

Stage One

At this stage an officer from the relevant service area will be responsible for investigating the complaint and responding directly to you.  Most complaints are sorted out quickly and amicably at this stage.

Within 15 working days - we aim to have your complaint investigated and a response sent to you.  Some complaints may take more time to investigate, but we will keep you informed of our actions and the progress we have made.

Stage Two

If you remain unsatisfied with the response you have received at stage one, you can escalate your complaint to stage two of the Procedure.  At this stage the complaint will be forwarded to the Service Manager for investigation and you will receive a response from the service Assistant Director/Director.  It is important that you give your reason(s) why the complaint has not been resolved to your satisfaction during stage one.  Although the final report would normally be sent to you within 20 working days, where a complaint is particularly complex, it may be necessary to extend this period. In such cases you will be informed about delays and the reason for them.  Stage two marks the final investigation of a complaint by the Council.

What happens next?

If your complaint is considered to be justified, you will receive, at least, an apology. Whenever it is in the Council’s power to do so, appropriate remedial action will be taken. In some cases financial compensation may be awarded. Our aim is to resolve the root of the problem and, when appropriate, to change the way we work to provide a better service in the future.

Breckland Council hopes that your complaint will be resolved to your satisfaction. However, if you are still not happy after both stages of this procedure, you can ask the Local Government Ombudsman, an independent organisation, to investigate your complaint. The Ombudsman will normally expect a complaint to have gone through the Council’s own complaint process before investigating individual cases.

The Local Government Ombudsman
P.O Box 4771
Coventry
CV4 0EH

Tel: 03000610614;
Fax: 02476820001;

Website: www.lgo.org.uk