Complaints

Anyone who uses or is affected by our services can make a complaint, including:

  • our residents
  • people who work in or visit the borough
  • local businesses

To make a complaint:

Whilst we accept complaints through any of the above methods, we encourage you to provide specific information about the complaint so we can understand what went wrong and how it can be put right.

How your complaint will be dealt with

If you are dissatisfied with a particular service, we ask that you contact the relevant service or the officer you have been dealing with. We want to resolve issues quickly and effectively and put matters right as soon as possible.

Our formal complaints process begins where you are not satisfied with how the service area or officer has responded to your issue, or where you decide to immediately make a formal complaint. The Bexley Corporate Complaints Procedure is a two-stage complaints process. Our process provides for a detailed investigation of the complaint at Stage 1, and a thorough review of the complaint at Stage 2, where necessary.

The Bexley Corporate Complaints Procedure

Stage 1 - Investigation:

  • on receipt of a formal complaint, it will be logged by the Complaints Team and we aim to send an acknowledgement to you within two working days
  • we expect you to provide specific details of the reason for your complaint and details of the outcome you require as a resolution to your complaint
  • in some cases, further information is needed about the complaint in order for the Council to fully investigate the matter. If further details are required, we will contact you and ask for more information. We may not be able to progress your complaint until this information is provided – we will let you know if this is the case
  • at Stage 1, the complaint will be investigated by the relevant Service Manager, who will liaise with the officers or contractors for the service, as appropriate
  • in some cases, the Service Manager will contact you to discuss the complaint and explore how it might be resolved to your satisfaction. We will not always be able to take the action you wish but we will do our best to explore the possible options
  • we aim to provide a written response to you within 15 working days
  • if the complaint is about the Service Manager, a more senior member of the service will handle the complaint

Stage 2 - Review:

  • if you remain dissatisfied following receipt of the Stage 1 response, you can request that your complaint is progressed to a review at Stage 2 of the Bexley Corporate Complaints Procedure. The request for a review of a complaint should be made within 20 working days from receipt of the Stage 1 response
  • we will ask you to explain why the initial Stage 1 response has not resolved your complaint and what outcome you require as a resolution to your complaint. We aim to send an acknowledgement to a Stage 2 complaint within two working days of receipt
  • at Stage 2, a Senior Manager will complete a thorough review of your complaint and the steps taken at Stage 1 to investigate and resolve it. The Senior Manager may contact you to discuss your Stage 2 complaint so they have a clear understanding of why you remain dissatisfied and the possible options for resolving the matter
  • we aim to provide a written response to you within 15 working days
  • in some cases we may be unable to progress your complaint to Stage 2. This may be the case if either:
    • you have not explained which aspects of the Stage 1 response you disagree with and why, to allow the Council to further investigate your complaint, or
    • there are no clear outcomes identified that could resolve your complaint
  • in these cases, we will advise you to contact the Local Government Ombudsman if you wish to pursue the matter further
  • another example of when the Council may not be able to progress a complaint could be complaints about policies or legislation. Some complaints are expressions of dissatisfaction with government or local policies, as opposed to the Council’s service delivery. On receipt of a complaint about policy or legislation, we will explain the Council’s position and the reason for the relevant policy or legislation. However, if this does not resolve the matter, the Local Government Ombudsman could be approached, as further review by the Council would not lead to a change in the original outcome

Local Government Ombudsman

If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of your complaint once it has completed the Bexley Corporate Complaints Procedure, you have the right to ask the Local Government Ombudsman to consider your complaint.

The Ombudsman is an independent body that exists to review complaints made to local authorities where the matter has not been resolved to the complainant’s satisfaction. The Ombudsman provides a free service.

You can approach the Ombudsman at any time during the complaints process for advice and assistance. However, usually, the Ombudsman will not normally look into a complaint if the Council have not had an opportunity to resolve it through the Bexley Corporate Complaints Procedure.

The contact details for the Local Government Ombudsman are:

  • submit a complaint on the LGO’s website 
  • telephone: 0300 061 0614 - lines are open Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 5.00pm (except public holidays)

Timescales

We aim to respond to complaints within the following timescales:

Stage Timescale (working days) Responsibility for response
Investigation (stage 1) 15 Service Manager
Review (stage 2) 15 Senior Manager
Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) Directed by LGO LGO

Time limit for making a complaint

If you do wish to make a complaint, we would ask you to do so as soon as possible after the incident occurred. We cannot normally accept complaints made more than 12 months after the date the matter occurred or the date you were notified of it. However, we will look at any complaints received after the 12-month time limit on an individual basis and determine whether the Council can investigate the matter.

What is not covered by this procedure

There are certain types of complaint that will not be dealt with under the Bexley Corporate Complaints Procedure because there are specific policies or processes already in place for dealing with them, including:

  • services for which there is an alternative statutory appeal or tribunal process, such as:
    • appeals against the refusal of planning permission or planning enforcement
    • appeals against statutory notices
    • parking appeals
    • school admission or exclusion appeals
    • Special Educational Needs (SEN) Tribunals
    • housing benefit appeals
    • homelessness decisions
  • complaints that have already been decided by a court or independent tribunal
  • complaints where the customer or the Council has started legal proceedings
  • a complaint that is being, or has been, investigated by the Local Government Ombudsman
  • a complaint that has been previously investigated and responded to by the Council
  • matters that properly fall within the Council’s employment procedures
  • complaints about schools (including academies) and colleges. These organisations have their own complaint procedures. Complaints about a school or a member of school staff should be made to the Headteacher and then the school’s Governing Body
  • complaints about registered housing providers. Registered housing providers have their own complaint procedures therefore they would need to be contacted directly
  • insurance claims against the Council

Service requests

Many routine matters can be dealt with as service requests. Once we are aware of a service request, it can quickly be routed to the correct team for action.

Examples of service requests include:

However, if the service request remains unresolved, the matter can be escalated for investigation under the Bexley Corporate Complaints Procedure.

Complaints about Social Care

Some social care complaints do not fall within the remit of the Bexley Corporate Complaints Procedure.

For Children’s Social Care complaints relating to the Council’s core social care responsibilities, we are required to follow the Children’s Statutory Complaints procedure. This is in accordance with The Children Act 1989 Representations Procedure Regulations (2006).

For complaints relating to the core Adults’ Social Care functions, we follow the Adults’ Social Care Statutory Complaints procedure. This is in accordance with the Local Authority Social Services and National Health Service Complaints (England) Regulations 2009.

On receipt of a complaint about Adults’ or Children’s Social Care Services, we will determine whether the complaint should be dealt with under the corporate or statutory complaints procedure, as appropriate, and you will be advised accordingly.

If we receive a complaint that does not fall within the remit of the Bexley Corporate Complaints Procedure, we will contact you and provide advice and assistance, including possible alternative routes for the complaint, where appropriate.

Anonymous complaints

We will deal with anonymous complaints on an individual basis and determine whether further action is appropriate.

The action we take will be dependent upon the substance of the matter and the amount of information provided (or otherwise available). This means:

  • we will investigate any matters involving vulnerable people or children, and other matters of serious concern as appropriate
  • where we do not have sufficient information, we will keep a record of the complaint as related issues may arise later
  • that in some cases we will not be able to investigate an anonymous complaint because of a lack of information or substance

Privacy Declaration

We don’t use your personal data for any other purpose than to process and correspond with you about your complaint.

We will only share your personal information with appropriate internal departments or contractors, to allow us to investigate your complaint.

We may be required to pass on your information to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman and Information Commissioner’s Office for administrative purposes and as required by law.

We may also receive your personal data from the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman and Information Commissioner’s Office, where you have made a complaint direct to these supervisory bodies.

For more information on why we process your personal data, please see our privacy notice.

Putting things right and learning from complaints

As far as possible, we aim to put you back in the position you would have been in if there had been no fault by the Council.

There are a number of actions we can take to put things right:

  • taking specific action such as backdating a housing application
  • offering financial compensation. In some cases, the Council can pay compensation if you are out of pocket because of our mistakes, or if you have been caused undue hardship, inconvenience or distress. We follow the guidelines issued by the Local Government Ombudsman in deciding the appropriate amount of compensation. These can be found on the Ombudsman’s website.

Fluency Duty

The English language fluency duty became law on 21 November 2016. The new law places a duty on Councils to ensure that staff members who work in a customer-facing role speak fluent English.

If a customer feels that a public-facing officer has insufficient proficiency in spoken English for the performance of their role, they can make a formal complaint that will be investigated under the Bexley Corporate Complaints Procedure.

However, please note that a complaint about the strength of a Council officer’s accent, dialect, origin or nationality would not be considered legitimate as a complaint about the fluency duty.

Further information is available in The Code of Practice on the English language requirement for public sector workers.