Although we aim to provide the highest standards of service, we know that problems do sometimes occur. Very often we can sort them out on the spot. If you are unhappy about something that has happened to you, your relative or friend, please let us know.
Remember, we can’t do anything about a problem if we are not aware of it. When things go wrong we want to know. We will use your feedback to put things right for the future.
We will try to resolve your issue when you first contact us and as quickly as we can.
If you feel the issue you have raised has not been dealt with properly, you may have the right to make a formal complaint.
Please make your complaint as soon as possible, while all the events are fresh in everyone’s minds. This will help us to help you by dealing with the complaint as quickly as possible. Complaints must be made within 12 months of the issue first arising.
We define a complaint as:
An expression of dissatisfaction about a council service (whether that service is provided directly by the council or by a contractor or partner) that requires a response.
If the answer to any of the following questions is YES, you probably have a complaint to make against the council:
- Have we failed to follow an agreed council procedure or policy?
- Have we failed to deliver a service to an agreed standard?
- Do you think that we didn’t take account of relevant matters in coming to a decision?
- Do you feel we’ve been neglectful towards you or delayed matters unnecessarily?
- Has one of our staff dealt with you badly?
- Do you feel that you’ve been a victim of malice, bias or discrimination in your dealings with us?
If the answer to any of the above questions is YES and we have not been able to resolve your issue informally, you may wish to make a formal complaint.
- Day to day service requests or reporting faults (eg a missed bin)
- A criticism of, or disagreement with, council policies or decisions
- Complaints against individual employees which arise from dissatisfaction with a council policy or decision, and where no other basis for the complaint exists
- Where an alternative appeals procedure exists, such as an appeal within the council or to an independent tribunal (eg refusals of planning permission, the making of new tree preservation orders, the awarding of housing or council tax benefits or homelessness matters)
- A matter which is, or could be reasonably be expected to be, the subject of court or tribunal proceedings, or which is in hands of the council's insurers
- Complaints which constitute a refusal to accept a rule of law which the council is applying
If the problem you want to tell us about does not fall into the category of a complaint, we would still like to hear your comments.
Any member of staff will be happy to discuss your comments or suggestions with you.
Complaints can be made in person, by telephone, by email or in writing. If you prefer to talk to someone in person, a meeting can be arranged and a friend, relative or other representative can come with you if you wish.
You can also use our online Talk Back form.
When making your complaint please ensure you provide:
- Your full name and address and preferred method of contact
- If you’re complaining on behalf of someone, their full name and address along with a signed Consent for Third Party Complaints Form (pdf, 22kb)
- A list of relevant points, highlighting any important issues
- Details of how you have been affected
- The names of any staff who have dealt with the situation
- An explanation of what you want to achieve
- Copies of any documents supporting your complaint
You can make a complaint anonymously and we will consider your complaint, but a detailed investigation will not normally be carried out.
All information about you or anyone involved in the complaint will be dealt with in accordance with the Data Protection Act.
All complaints can be submitted to our Customer Services team who will then direct your complaint to a manager in the appropriate service. Contact Customer Services on 01524 582000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alternatively at any time you can contact your local councillor who will be happy to take up any complaint with the relevant service.
Councillor names, addresses and telephone numbers can be found on our Councillors page or you can ask any of our Customer Services staff for your councillor’s contact details.
Your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) can also give you help and advice about making a complaint. The CAB is an independent organisation.
You can complain if you feel you have been, or are due to be, personally affected.
However if you make a complaint for someone else, like a friend or relative, we will need to ask their permission before we can give you certain information. In this case, please use our Consent For Third Party Complaints Form (pdf, 22kb).
This should be signed by the person on behalf of whom you are making the complaint.
We will try to resolve any issues you have when you first contact us. If you feel your issue has not been resolved then you may have the right to make a complaint.
We will contact you within five working days of receipt to let you know we have received your complaint.
Your initial complaint will be investigated by an officer within the appropriate department.
We call this a Stage One complaint.
There are five elements to Stage One:
- Acknowledging the issue and agreeing the scope of the complaint
- Investigating the complaint
- Making a decision on the evidence obtained
- Communicating the decision
- Taking action to put things right where they have gone wrong.
Stage One complaints are dealt with by designated senior officers within the service which is the subject of the complaint.
We will aim to give you a full reply to your Stage One complaint within 10 working days. If this is going to take longer we will keep you up to date our our progress.
Some complainants will be dissatisfied with the response they get from the Stage One investigation of their complaint and they may have the right to question or challenge the response.
The complaint only becomes a Stage Two complaint when the Stage One process has been exhausted (ie a thorough investigation covering the agreed scope of the original complaint has been carried out) and the Stage One investigating officer has nothing more to say on the matter.
At Stage Two complaints are reviewed by an officer independent of the Service area concerned, the review to establish:
- Whether the Stage One investigation was adequately thorough and impartial
- If any fault was found, whether things have been put right for the complainant
Stage Two is not a re-investigation of the complaint.
If the issue has still not been resolved at Stage Two, you have the right to refer your complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman.
Alternatively if you are, for example, a tenant, leaseholder, or a housing applicant, with a complaint about the council’s housing service, and the issue has still not been resolved at Stage Two, you can ask 'a Designated Person' (your MP, a local councillor or the Tenant Panel) to help resolve the complaint (see below).
You can contact the ombudsman at any stage, but they will want to be sure that you have gone through the full complaints process first.
With Lancaster City Council, the full complaints process involves having your complaint investigated at stage one and then stage two.
The ombudsman for the Lancaster district can be contacted via the Local Government Ombudsman website www.lgo.org.uk or by the contact details below.
The Local Government Ombudsman
PO Box 4771
Coventry CV4 0EH
Telephone: 0300 061 0614 or 0845 602 1983
Fax: 024 7682 0001
Text: You can also text 'call back' to 0762 480 3014
If you are a tenant, leaseholder, or a housing applicant, with a complaint about the council’s housing service, and the issue has still not been resolved at Stage Two, you can ask 'a Designated Person' (your MP, a local councillor or the Tenant Panel) to help resolve the complaint.
Alternatively you can wait eight weeks and refer the matter directly to the Housing Ombudsman.
You can contact a Designated Person if you feel that your complaint has not been resolved at the end of the council’s complaints procedure.
The Tenant Panel can be contacted via the council’s housing service at Palatine Hall, Lancaster, LA1 1PW, telephone 01524 582929.
A designated person will help resolve the complaint in one of two ways: they can try and resolve the complaint themselves or they can refer the complaint straight to the Housing Ombudsman. If they refuse to do either you can contact the Housing Ombudsman directly.
The designated person can try to put things right in which ever way they think may work best. If the problem is still not resolved following the intervention of the designated person either they or you can refer the complaint to the Housing Ombudsman.
Complaints to the Housing Ombudsman do not have to be referred by a designated person, but if they are not there must be at least 8 weeks from the end of the council’s complaint process before the Housing Ombudsman can consider the case.
The Housing Ombudsman can be contacted at www.housing-ombudsman.org.uk or at the contact details below:
Housing Ombudsman Service
Telephone: 0300 111 3000
Fax: 020 7831 1942
Last updated: 17 October 2017