Have Your Say Guide

Aberdeenshire 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 webpage describes our complaints procedure and how to make a complaint. It also tells you about our service standards and what you can expect from us.

Quick Guide to our Complaints Procedure

You can make your complaint in person, by phone, by e-mail, via our online form 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 a detail investigation, we will tell you and keep you updated on our progress.

Stage 1: frontline resolution

We will always try to resolve 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 are complex or need detailed investigation.

We will acknowledge your complaint within three working days. We will 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.

Social Work complaints

The 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. We will tell you how to do this when we send you our final decision. We will tell you how to do this when we send you our final decision.

Further Detailed Information on our Complaints Procedure

The following information can be downloaded in full in PDF format here:

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:

  • delays in responding to your enquiries and requests
  • failure to provide a service
  • our standard of service
  • council policy
  • treatment by or attitude of a member of staff
  • our failure to follow proper procedure.

Your complaint may involve more than one 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, for example a first-time request for a housing repair or action on anti social behaviour
  • requests for compensation from the council
  • things that are covered by a right of appeal.

Here are some examples:

  • if you are dissatisfied with the outcome of a homelessness application, you have the right to appeal the decision.
  • If your planning application is refused, you have a right of appeal to Scottish Ministers within three months of the decision.
  • If you believe your house is incorrectly valued for council tax, you can appeal to the Assessor.

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 can make a complaint to us, including the representative of someone who is dissatisfied with our service. Please also read the section on ‘Getting help to make your complaint’.

How do I complain?

You can complain in person at any of our offices, by phone, in writing, by email or via our complaints form on our website.

It is easier for us to resolve 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 any problems on the spot.

When complaining, tell us:

  • your full name and address
  • as much as you can about the complaint
  • what has gone wrong
  • how you want us to resolve the matter.

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, but no longer than 12 months after the event itself.

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 one – frontline resolution

We aim to resolve complaints quickly and close to where we provided the service. This could mean an on-the-spot apology and explanation if something has clearly gone wrong, and 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 we can’t resolve your complaint at this stage, we will explain why and tell you what you can do next. We might suggest that you take your complaint to Stage 2.

You may choose to do this immediately or sometime after you get our initial decision.

Stage two – investigation

Stage 2 deals with two types of complaint: those that have not been resolved at Stage 1 and those that are complex and require detailed investigation.

When using Stage 2 we will:

  • acknowledge receipt of your complaint within three working days
  • if escalating from stage 1, we will discuss your complaint with you to understand why you remain dissatisfied and what outcome you are looking for.
  • we may also do this in certain circumstances where the complaint has gone straight to the investigation stage and we do not have all of the information we require to address your concerns. And if the outcome you are looking for is not clear.
  • give you a full response to the complaint as soon as possible and within 20 working days

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

Social Work complaints

What If I remain dissatisfied?

Social Work has an additional statutory aspect of complaints handling. If therefore you are dissatisfied with the response to your complaint after the investigation stage (stage 2) you can request that the matter is referred to the Social Work Complaints Review Committee (SWCRC).


This Committee is independent of the Service and consists of individuals with substantial experience in public service. Should you wish to request that a Committee is convened you much to so within 28 days. Further details of how to progress this will be included in the stage 2 response. You will be advised if the review committee can consider your complaint.


If following the Complaints Review committee you are still dissatisfied, you may ask the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) to consider your complaint. Details of how to do so will be included in the correspondence that is sent to you by the SWCRC.

What if I’m still dissatisfied?

After we have fully investigated, 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 cannot normally look at:

  • a complaint that has not completed our complaints procedure (so please make sure it has done so before contacting the SPSO)
  • events that happened, or that you became aware of, more than a year ago
  • a matter that has been or is being considered in court.

You can contact the SPSO:
In Person:
4 Melville Street
Freephone: 0800 377 7330

By Post
Freepost SPSO

Online contact
Website: www.spso.org.uk
Mobile site: http://m.spso.org.uk

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. Please refer to:

Telephone: 0345 600 9527
Fax: 01382 207 289
Online complaints form
Email: enquiries@careinspectorate.com

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 advocates in your area by contacting the Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance.

Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance
Tel: 0131 524 1975
Fax: 0131 550 9819
Website: www.siaa.org.uk

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 customers
access and use our services. If you have trouble putting your complaint in writing please tell us in
person, email us at feedback.team@aberdeenshire.gov.uk or call us on 01346 585 863.

Further Links

Advice leaflet on Scottish Housing Regulators website

Our contact details

Please contact us by the following means:
By email: feedback.team@aberdeenshire.gov.uk

In writing:
Feedback Team
Woodhill House
Westburn Road
AB16 5GB

We can also provide this information in other languages and formats (such as large print, audio and Braille).


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