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Complaints handling procedure

East Ayrshire Council is committed to providing high-quality customer services. We value complaints and use information from them to help us improve our services. If something goes wrong or you are dissatisfied with our services, please tell us.

This page describes our complaints procedure and how to make a complaint. It also tells you about how we will handle your complaint and what you can expect from us.

What is a complaint?

We regard a complaint as any expression of dissatisfaction about our action or lack of action, or about the standard of service provided by us or on our behalf.

What can I complain about?

You can complain about things like:

  • failure or refusal to provide a service
  • inadequate quality or standard of service, or an unreasonable delay in providing a service
  • dissatisfaction with one of our policies or its impact on the individual
  • failure to properly apply law, procedure or guidance when delivering services
  • failure to follow the appropriate administrative process
  • conduct, treatment by or attitude of a member of staff or contractor (except where there are arrangements in place for the contractor to handle the complaint themselves)
  • disagreement with a decision, (except where there is a statutory procedure for challenging that decision, or an established appeals process followed throughout the sector)

Your complaint may involve more than one East Ayrshire Council service or be about someone working on our behalf.

What can't I complain about?

There are some things we can't deal with through our complaints handling procedure. These include:

  • a routine first-time request for a service 
  • a first-time report of a fault (for example, potholes or street lighting)
  • a request for compensation only
  • issues that are in court or have already been heard by a court or a tribunal (if you decide to take legal action, you should let us know as the complaint cannot then be considered under this process)
  • disagreement with a decision where there is a statutory procedure for challenging that decision (such as for freedom of information and subject access requests), or an established appeals process followed throughout the sector - such as council tax, planning, or a parking ticket appeal
  • disagreement with decisions or conditions that are based upon social work recommendations, but determined by a court or other statutory body, for example decisions made by a children's panel, parole board or mental health tribunal
  • a request for information under the Data Protection or Freedom of Information (Scotland) Acts
  • a grievance by a staff member or a grievance relating to employment or staff recruitment
  • a concern raised internally by a member of staff (which was not about a service they received, such as a whistleblowing concern)
  • a concern about a child or an adult's safety
  • an attempt to reopen a previously concluded complaint or to have a complaint reconsidered where we have already given our final decision
  • abuse or unsubstantiated allegations about our organisation or staff
  • a concern about the actions or service of a different organisation, where we have no involvement in the issue (except where the other organisation is delivering services on our behalf).

If other procedures or rights of appeal can help you resolve your concerns, we will give information and advice to help you.

Who can complain?

Anyone who receives, requests or is directly affected by our services can make a complaint to us. This includes the representative of someone who is dissatisfied with our service (for example, a relative, friend, advocate or adviser).  If you are making a complaint on someone else's behalf, you will normally need their written consent.

Please also read the section on getting help to make your complaint below.

How do I complain?

You can complain in person at any of our public offices, by phone, in writing, by email or via our online contact us form.

It is easier for us to address complaints if you make them quickly and directly to the service concerned. So please talk to a member of our staff at the service you are complaining about.  Then they can try to resolve the issue.

When complaining, please tell us:

  • your full name and contact details
  • as much as you can about the complaint
  • what has gone wrong
  • what outcome you are seeking

How long do I have to make a complaint?

Normally, you must make your complaint within six months of:

  • the event you want to complain about; or
  • finding out that you have a reason to complain

In exceptional circumstances, we may be able to accept a complaint after the time limit. If you feel that the time limit should not apply to your complaint, please tell us why.

What happens when I have complained?

We will always tell you who is dealing with your complaint. Our complaints procedure has two stages.

Stage 1: Frontline response

We aim to respond to complaints quickly (where possible, when you first tell us about the issue). This could mean an on-the-spot apology and explanation if something has clearly gone wrong, or immediate action to resolve the problem. 

We will give you our decision at stage 1 in five working days or less, unless there are exceptional circumstances.

If you are not satisfied with the response we give at this stage, we will tell you what you can do next.  If you choose to, you can take your complaint to stage 2. You must normally ask us to consider your complaint at stage 2 either:

  • within six months of the event you want to complain about or finding out that you have a reason to complain; or
  • within two months of receiving your stage 1 response (if this is later).

In exceptional circumstances, we may be able to accept a stage 2 complaint after the time limit. If you feel that the time limit should not apply to your complaint, please tell us why.

Stage 2: Investigation

Stage 2 deals with two types of complaint: those that have not been resolved at stage 1 and those that clearly require investigation, and so are handled directly at this stage.  If you do not wish your complaint to be handled at stage 1, you can ask us to handle it at stage 2 instead.

When using stage 2:

  • we will acknowledge receipt of your complaint within three working days
  • we will confirm our understanding of the complaint we will investigate and what outcome you are looking for
  • we will try to resolve your complaint where we can (in some cases we may suggest using an alternative complaint resolution approach, such as mediation)
  • where we cannot resolve your complaint, we will give you a full response as soon as possible, normally within 20 working days

If our investigation will take longer than 20 working days, we will tell you.  We will tell you our revised time limits and keep you updated on progress.

What if I'm still dissatisfied?

After we have given you our final decision, if you are still dissatisfied with our decision or the way we dealt with your complaint, you can ask the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) to look at it.  

The SPSO are an independent organisation that investigates complaints. They are not an advocacy or support service (but there are other organisations who can help you with advocacy or support).

You can ask the SPSO to look at your complaint if:

  • you have gone all the way through the East Ayrshire Council's complaints handling procedure
  • it is less than 12 months after you became aware of the matter you want to complain about; and
  • the matter has not been (and is not being) considered in court.

The SPSO will ask you to complete an online complaint form and provide a copy of our final response to your complaint.  You can also call them on Freephone 0800 377 7330. If you would like to visit in person, you must make an appointment first.

You may wish to get independent support or advocacy to help you progress your complaint. See the section on getting help to make your complaint  below.

The SPSO’s contact details are:

SPSO
Bridgeside House
99 McDonald Road
Edinburgh
EH7 4NS

Freephone: 0800 377 7330
Online contact us form

Their freepost address is FREEPOST SPSO.

There are some complaints that have an alternative route for independent review. We will tell you how to seek independent review when we give you our final response on your complaint.

Care complaints

If your complaint relates to a care service we provide, you can choose whether to complain to us or the Care Inspectorate. You can find out more about their complaints procedure, or make a complaint, by contacting them.

The Care Inspectorate has several offices around Scotland.

Getting help to make your complaint

We understand that you may be unable or reluctant to make a complaint yourself.  We accept complaints from the representative of a person who is dissatisfied with our service. We can take complaints from a friend, relative, or an advocate, if you have given them your consent to complain for you.

You can find out about:

We are committed to making our service easy to use for all members of the community.  In line with our statutory equalities duties, we will always ensure that reasonable adjustments are made to help you access and use our services.

Accessibility

If you have trouble putting your complaint in writing, or want this information in another language or format, such as large font, or Braille, please tell us in person, contact us on 01563 554400, email us at ppp.division@east-ayrshire.gov.uk or text us at 01563 576167.

Our contact details

Please contact us by using our online form or by using the contact information below.

Quick guide to our complaints procedure

Complaints procedure

  • You can make your complaint in person, by phone, by email or in writing
  • We have a two-stage complaints procedure
  • We will always try to deal with your complaint quickly
  • But if it is clear that the matter will need investigation, we will tell you and keep you updated on our progress
  • If your complaint relates to a care service you can choose to complain to us or to the Care Inspectorate

Stage 1: Frontline response

  • We will always try to respond to your complaint quickly, within five working days if we can
  • If you are dissatisfied with our response, you can ask us to consider your complaint at stage 2

Stage 2: Investigation

  • We will look at your complaint at this stage if you are dissatisfied with our response at stage 1
  • We also look at some complaints immediately at this stage, if it is clear that they need investigation
  • We will acknowledge your complaint within three working days
  • We will confirm the points of complaint to be investigated and what you want to achieve
  • We will investigate the complaint and give you our decision as soon as possible
  • This will be after no more than 20 working days unless there is clearly a good reason for needing more time

Scottish Public Services Ombudsman

  • If, after receiving our final decision on your complaint, you remain dissatisfied with our decision or the way we have handled your complaint, you can ask the SPSO to consider it
  • There are some complaints that have an alternative route for independent review
  • We will tell you how to seek independent review when we give you our final response on your complaint
  • We will tell you how to do this when we send you our final decision

Contact Information

 

Council Headquarters
London Road
Kilmarnock
East Ayrshire
KA3 7BU
Contact us online: www.eastayrshi.re/contactus
Save time, do it online: www.our.east-ayrshire.gov.uk
Telephone: 01563 554400
Textphone: 01563 576167
24 Hour Emergency Helpline: 0345 724 0000 (local rate)