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Feedback and complaints

Customer feedback procedure

We want to make sure that you are satisfied with our services. We need to know what we are doing well, what we could do better and what we are not doing well. This is why we welcome all feedback about our services, whether positive or negative. We take all comments and complaints seriously and aim to resolve your concerns in a timely manner and to use your feedback to improve our services.

Compliments

We value our staff and it is important that they know when they are doing a good job or have exceeded expectations in delivering a service. We use compliments to build on success and continue to provide excellent levels of service.

We will record the details of a compliment within 3 working days of receipt. Details will be passed to the relevant manager who will ensure that the team or staff member receives acknowledgement and recognition.

Comments and concerns

The Council recognises that customers may wish to raise a formal concern or comment regarding Council activity without raising a complaint. This is known as a representation.

Your representation will be acknowledged within 3 working days, and you will be advised who is looking into the issues you have raised. You can expect to receive a final response within 20 working days.

Complaints

If you are unhappy with the service you have received from Devon County Council, you are entitled to make a complaint whilst knowing that it will not affect your current or future service, that you will be treated fairly and sensitively, and that you will receive a response from us in a timely manner. Your feedback is welcomed and is used to help us improve our services.

Please let us know if:

  • we tell you we will do something but we do nothing
  • we take too long to do something we have agreed to do
  • we tell you that we cannot help you when you believe we should
  • you think a member of our staff’s behaviour is inappropriate
  • you are dissatisfied with any other aspect of our service.

We hope that most concerns can be settled easily and quickly by discussing the problem with the member of staff involved. If you tell them what is worrying you, they will try to find a solution or advise you who the best person is to speak to. If you prefer, you can ask to speak to the manager for the service you are concerned about.

Alternatively, you can contact the Customer Relations Team with details of your concerns and they will ensure that these concerns are dealt with appropriately.

Contacting us

Should you wish to provide feedback or make a complaint, please contact:

Customer Relations Team
Room 120
County Hall
Topsham Road
Exeter, EX2 4QD

Tel: 0800 212 783 (free from landlines)
Email: customer.relations@devon.gov.uk

Putting things right

If we make a mistake, we will apologise and try to take some practical action to put things right. We will ask you to suggest what you would like us to do. We will always try to put you back in the position you would have been in but for our mistake. We will also take measures to learn from our mistakes and try to ensure that the same mistake does not happen again.

We may decide that one or more of the following can be done to put things right:

  • Provide or change a service to the customer.
  • Provide an explanation or information to the customer.
  • Review customer literature (eg leaflets, website, posters).
  • Review a policy or procedure.
  • Arrange training or guidance for employees.
  • Provide a refund in appropriate circumstances.

If your concerns cannot be immediately resolved, we can register them within the complaints procedure.

When a complaint is received it will be acknowledged within 3 working days. If you make your complaint by telephone to the Customer Relations Team, you will be provided with a written record of your complaint and given the opportunity to amend it if required.

We will make initial enquiries with the service you are complaining about before asking a manager to look into your complaint and provide you with a response or update within 20 working days. If we are not able to provide a response within 20 working days we will ask the responding manager to update you on progress and to let you know when a response will be available.

Usually, your complaint will be investigated and responded to by the manager of the service you are complaining about; however, there are times when this is inappropriate. In such cases, the Customer Relations Team will seek a suitable alternative manager to respond.

What if I remain unhappy?

If you remain dissatisfied with the Council’s response to your complaint at Stage 1, you can request progression to Stage 2 of the complaints procedure by contacting the Customer Relations Team, using any of the contact methods detailed at the end of this procedure; we would request that this is completed within 20 working days from the date you receive your response at Stage 1. In order for us to consider your request you will need to explain why you are still unhappy and what you would like to happen to put things right.

We will acknowledge your request to consider your complaint at Stage 2 within 3 working days of receipt.

Stage 2 procedure

Following receipt of your stage 2 request an officer, independent from the service you are complaining about, will be in contact with you within 10 working days of your request to agree the issues for investigation and your desired outcomes.

Once the issues for investigation have been agreed by you, you can expect to receive a response from a senior manager following the Stage 2 investigation within 25 working days of the agreement.

A complex case may take longer but we will keep you informed of progress and likely timescales.

What if I am still unhappy?

Following stage 2 investigation you are entitled to refer your complaint to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman. The Ombudsman considers complaints about councils, and can be contacted at:

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman
PO Box 4771
Coventry
CV4 0EH

Advice line: 0300 061 0614
Web: www.lgo.org.uk/making-a-complaint

Frequently asked questions

What is the time limit for making a complaint to the Council?

Complaints should be made within 12 months of the incident that caused the problem, or the complainant realising there is a problem. The Council can exercise discretion to extend this if circumstances indicate it would have been difficult for the complaint to have been made earlier, as long as it is still possible to fairly and effectively investigate the facts of the case.

Does this process deal with every complaint?

No. Most complaints that are about adult or children’s social care are handled through complaints processes which comply with the statutory regulations and guidance that are specific to these areas of the council’s work; however, this decision is taken on a case by case basis. If you wish to make a complaint about adult or children’s social services, please contact the Customer Relations Team.

Is there anything I cannot raise a complaint about?

We are unable to handle your complaint if it is about a school. Schools are independently managed and governed. Therefore each school is responsible for dealing with their own complaints. The areas where Devon County Council can instruct a school to take particular action are limited. It is the head teacher’s responsibility to ensure that all concerns and complaints are dealt with quickly, efficiently, fully and fairly within the school, in accordance with the policy of the school’s governing body.

Further information regarding complaints about schools is available here.

We are also unable to handle your complaint if the County Council has an appeals process where you can present your concerns. Decisions regarding planning, school admissions, school transport, Blue Badges, education, health and care plans, employment grievances and parking tickets all have their own appeals process. Similarly, insurance claims for personal/vehicle damage are dealt with through a different process. If you need help accessing these services, please contact 0345 155 1015.

Whilst the Council is able to accept complaints about the application of policy, we are unable to accept complaints regarding the content of the policies themselves; our policies are endorsed and approved by members of our Cabinet which is made up of county councillors elected by members of the public through a democratic process. Should you have a concern regarding Council policy, you may wish to raise this issue with your local MP or councillor.