Have Your Say guide and complaints process

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.

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.

Anyone can make a complaint to us, including the representative of someone who is dissatisfied with our service.

Find out about our complaints procedure, service standards and what you can expect from us:

View our full complaints procedure and our Social Care complaints procedures.

What you can complain about

Generally, you can complain about:

  • 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.

If you'd like to complain about care service we provide, you can either complain to us or the Care Inspectorate.

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

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

Timings for making 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.

How to make a complaint

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

You can complain in person at any of our offices, by contacting our feedback team or via our online form.

Make a complaint online

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.

Get 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.

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. If you have trouble putting your complaint in writing please contact usWe can also provide this information in other languages and formats (such as large print, audio and Braille).

If you are a British Sign Language (BSL) user, you can have this information translated via contactSCOTLAND-BSL, the online British Sign Language interpreting service.

What happens after

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.

Frontline resolution - stage 1

We will always try to resolve your complaint 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.

Investigation - stage 2

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 and 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.

What if you are still dissatisfied

If, after receiving our final decision on your complaint, you are still dissatisfied with our decision or the way we have handled your complaint, you can ask the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) to consider it. We will tell you how to do this when we send you our final decision.

The SPSO cannot normally look at:

  • a complaint that has not completed our complaints procedure (make sure it has done so before contacting them)
  • 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

Unacceptable actions

The council makes sure that our complaints handling procedure is available and accessible for everyone and aim to work with customers to achieve a resolution to all complaints and concerns. Sometimes, the behaviour or actions of people using our service makes it very difficult for us to deal with their complaint. In a small number of cases the actions of individuals become unacceptable because they involve abuse of our staff or our process. When this happens, we have to take action to protect our employees. We also consider the impact of the behaviour on our ability to do our work and provide a service to others.

The unacceptable actions policy explains how we approach these situations. The council will take action to reduce or restrict contact from customers who have completed our complaints handling procedure, or refuse to engage in the complaints handling process, and show behaviour as set out in our unacceptable actions policy. This can be where customers show aggressive or abusive behaviour towards staff, correspond with unreasonable persistence, or who place unreasonable demands on council employees.

View the documents that explain how we handle unacceptable behaviour by complainants:

Contact feedback team

Feedback Team
Woodhill House
Westburn Road
AB16 5GB

Telephone: 01224 001846