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Complaints and compliments policy

How we deal with your feedback


Ashfield District Council is committed to continually improving the quality of, and access to, the services it provides. If we have failed to provide a service or you are dissatisfied with the way in which a service has been provided by the Council (or by contractors providing a service on behalf of the Council), we want to know about it.

This policy covers all services delivered by the Council, or for which it has responsibility, it does not include services where there are separate complaints procedures, separate processes or routes to resolution, for example:

  • The conduct of elections
  • Complaints about Elected Members conduct or behaviour
  • Requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act, Environmental Information Regulations, or Data Protection Act
  • Matters which have already been considered under the complaints policy
  • Issues which are subject to criminal investigations/legal proceedings, in court or have already been heard by a court or tribunal fall outside this policy
  • Where either the Council’s, yours or a third party’s insurer is determining liability
  • The issue giving rise to the complaint occurred over twelve months ago (without good reason for the delay in raising a complaint), except where there are health and safety issues or safeguarding concerns
  • If the complaint is simply asking for a service, such as reporting a repair or anti-social behaviour
  • Any issue which is agreed Council Policy, where the policy has been followed
  • Issues you have asked the local MP or Councillor to investigate, which are to be determined or responded to
  • Issues relating to employee conduct, which could constitute gross misconduct, which would require an investigation in line with the Council’s disciplinary policy.

If your complaint is not dealt with under or escalated within this policy for any reason, you will be informed how it is being dealt with instead and the reasons for this. Consideration on whether an expression of dissatisfaction is excluded from the complaints process will be made on a case-by-case basis.

The purpose of this Policy is to ensure that:

  • Providing feedback to the Council is made as easy and accessible as possible
  • Feedback is dealt with promptly and efficiently
  • There is effective communication between council staff and both the person making the complaint and any other partners involved in the complaint from an early stage
  • Every effort is made to resolve any complaints that are received at an early stage
  • The Council learns from all feedback received taking appropriate steps to improve service provision or celebrate good feedback
  • There is clarity on the roles of staff with the process
  • Credibility and accountability are maintained through meaningful review and monitoring
  • Complaints are handled in line with complaint handling requirements of the relevant ombudsman service.

This policy explains:

  • The definition of a complaint and compliment
  • Who can make a complaint or compliment
  • How you can make a complaint or compliment
  • How we will deal with your complaint or compliment
  • What you can do if you are unhappy with our response
  • How we use your feedback to improve our services.


For the purposes of this Policy, the following definitions will be used:


Complaints are defined as any expression of dissatisfaction, however made, about the standard of service, actions or lack of action by the Council, its own staff, or those acting on its behalf, affecting a resident or group of residents.

There is often confusion about what constitutes a complaint, which leads to complaints mistakenly being labelled as requests for service. Where there is any doubt whether the customer’s feedback is a complaint or a request for service, it is to be treated as a complaint. An initial request for a repair or service would not normally be considered a complaint, however examples of complaints might include:

  • Failure to provide a service, or inadequate standard of service
  • How we met a customer’s needs
  • How we communicated with a customer
  • How long we took to deal with a case, enquiry or request
  • Treatment by or attitude / behaviour of a member of staff
  • Failure to follow the appropriate administrative process or procedure
  • Our standards of service.

The above definitions also extend to complaints in respect of partners or contractors providing services on behalf of the Council. In these circumstances the complaint will be directed to the Council department that has instructed and is co-ordinating the works, who will investigate the complaint with the contractor, in line with this Policy

There is no difference between a formal and an informal complaint. Both are expressions of dissatisfaction that require attention as a complaint and a response.

Service Requests

Service Requests will generally be the first point of contact with the Council regarding the matter from the resident, group of residents, or their representative. In these instances, the Council will action the request in line with the relevant policies and procedures. Examples of Services Requests may include:

  • Reporting a new incident of anti-social behaviour
  • Reporting a new housing repair issue
  • Requesting an inspection / support to resolve an issue in a private rented property.


Compliments are specific expressions of satisfaction from customers concerning a function or a service provided by the Council. A simple thank you, usually at the end of a contact, would not be considered a compliment.

Who can complain?

Any customer of the Council who is dissatisfied with the standard of a service, actions or lack of action by the Council, its own staff or those acting on its behalf. A customer may be a tenant or leaseholder, a resident in the district, or a user of a specific Council service.

We understand that you may be unable or reluctant to make a complaint yourself. We can take complaints from a friend, relative, or an advocate acting on your behalf. If you ask someone to make a complaint on your behalf, we will ask you to give formal consent for them to act on your behalf, for the security of your personal information.

As part of our complaint investigations we may invite you to meet with us, so we can discuss your concerns in more detail. We will always allow you to have a representative attend these meetings with you or attend on your behalf, subject to you providing us with authority to discuss any personal information with them.

The Council is committed to making the complaints and compliments process accessible to all of our customers. Further information regarding the support available to assist customers with making a complaint can be found in the ‘Help with making your complaint’ section of this Policy.

If you are a tenant and are complaining about a Housing issue, further information that may assist you can be found on the housing complaints page on our website.

Anonymous complaints

If you complain to us but can't give us your name and address, we will not be able to deal with your complaint under the complaint’s procedure, as we will be unable to formally acknowledge and respond to the issues, following our investigation. However, we will ensure any concerns raised are investigated and steps are taken to deal with the issue and learn from your dissatisfaction, if necessary.

How can I complain?

You can make a complaint by:

Ashfield District Council
Urban Road
Kirkby in Ashfield
NG17 8DA

  • In person at our Council offices:

Urban Road
Kirkby in Ashfield
NG17 8DA

  • In person to a Council Officer conducting Council business on the District

Due to the nature and volume of contact received via the Council’s social media channels it is not always possible to review and action all comments/posts, therefore, the Council will not accept complaints received via social media.

If you do feel that it is necessary to make a complaint about our services, it is extremely helpful if you can explain what you are concerned about and how you would like it resolved, as this may mean we can rectify the issue for you in a much quicker timescale and to your satisfaction.

Help with making your complaint

If you require help in preparing your complaint, the Council may be able to assist you to do this, where appropriate to do so. Please contact us on 01623 450000 or at for more information. You may be directed to the relevant area for assistance in preparing your complaint in the first instance.

Equality Statement:

Ashfield District Council is committed to equality of opportunity in service delivery. We will not treat you any differently because of your gender, race, disability, religion or belief, sexuality or age.

We are committed to making reasonable adjustments to accommodate a person’s needs in line with the Council’s Reasonable Adjustments Scheme, and in accordance with the Equality Act 2010.

How we will deal with your complaint and what you can do if you are unhappy with our response

What happens when I have complained or submitted a compliment?


All compliments should be acknowledged and, if relating to a specific individual or team, we will inform relevant staff that a compliment has been received.


If the area(s) of dissatisfaction or resolution you are seeking from your complaint are not clear when we receive it, we will contact you to seek clarification and agree our understanding of these.

If your complaint covers multiple Council services a lead department will be nominated to co-ordinate the investigation, normally the department where the majority of the complaint lies. The lead department will liaise with the other service areas involved to ensure all areas of dissatisfaction are reviewed and the findings collated in to one response.

If, for any reason, your complaint will not be investigated through the Complaints Policy and Process, we will let you know the reasons why it is not suitable for the complaints process and how it is being dealt with instead. We will also make you aware of what support is available to you, if you wish to challenge this decision.

Our aim is to assist you with resolving any issues raised as quickly as possible. This may involve us contacting you upon receipt of your complaint, so we can make provision for actions to take place immediately, which may result in the outcome you are hoping for from your complaint being achieved, before the complaint investigation process has taken place. Any such actions will only be undertaken by mutual agreement and will not prevent you from accessing the complaint process. However, if you decide that following the early intervention your dissatisfaction has been resolved you can choose to withdraw your complaint.

Please be advised that if you notify us of any additional areas of dissatisfaction, during the investigation of your initial complaint, we will endeavour to address all points in one response, if this will not unreasonably delay us responding to you. If this is not possible, the additional matters raised will be logged and handled as a new stage 1 complaint, and will be investigated and responded to, as below.

The Council has a 2 stage complaint process:

For the purposes of calculating the timescales set out below, the day the complaint is received is day zero, if the complaint is received on a non-working day (e.g. weekend or bank holiday) the date the complaint is received will be considered as the next working day, in line with Ombudsman guidance.

Stage 1 – Investigation and response from a manager in the relevant service area (investigated at point of service delivery)

We will:

  • Acknowledge and log your complaint, including notifying you of any areas that will not be responded as part of the complaints process within five working days of receipt
  • If further information is needed, we will endeavour to contact to you to get a full understanding of the complaint and how it can be rectified
  • Give a full response to your complaint as soon as possible, normally within 10 working days of your complaint being acknowledged. Where this is not possible, we will contact you as early as possible into the process, explaining the reasons for this, how you can challenge this decision and notify you when you can expect a full response, however, this date will not exceed a further 10 working days without good reason. If an extension is required that is likely to exceed a further 10 working days we will agree an action plan for keeping you updated with progress on the complaint investigation
  • Provide you with the details on what you need to do to progress to stage 2 if you remain dissatisfied with the outcome of the complaint.

Stage 2 – Review and response from the relevant Assistant / Executive Director

If you remain dissatisfied after the stage 1 response, you can request to escalate the complaint to stage 2 for an internal review.

Complaints can be escalated to stage 2 of the process at any point, until the date the issue giving rise to the complaint or the complainant becoming aware of the issues occurred twelve months ago, except where the stage 1 response has been issued to you within 28 days of the anniversary of the issue arising, in which case the stage 2 escalation request needs to be made within 28 days of the issuing of the stage 1 response. Exceptions will also apply where there are health and safety issues or safeguarding concerns.

When escalating to stage 2 it is helpful if you can outline why you are dissatisfied with the solution or response provided at stage 1 as this will allow the stage 2 investigator to look at alternative solutions you would like to see, alongside reviewing the original complaint or issue, but this is not essential.

We will: 

  • Acknowledge your complaint within five working days
  • Give a full and final response to your complaint within 20 working days of your complaint being acknowledged. Where this is not possible, we will contact you as early as possible into the process, explaining the reasons for this, how you can challenge this decision and notify you when you can expect a full response, however, this date will not exceed a further 20 days without good reason. If an extension is required that is likely to exceed a further 20 working days, we will agree an action plan for keeping you updated with progress on the complaint investigation
  • Provide you with details on how to complain to the relevant Ombudsman if you remain dissatisfied.

During each stage of the complaints process the officer investigating the complaint will:

  • Deal with complaints on their merits, act independently, and have an open mind
  • Give you a fair chance to set out your position
  • Take measure to address any actual or perceived conflict of interest
  • Consider all relevant information and evidence carefully
  • Acknowledge when things have gone wrong, the reasons for this and what will be done to put things right
  • Offer appropriate remedy / redress where service failure is identified.

Support from Ombudsman Services 

If you are not satisfied with how we have handled your complaint following receiving your stage 2 response, then you can request that the relevant Ombudsman investigates your complaint, details of how to do this will be included within your response.

Both the Housing Ombudsman Service and the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman are independent of all government bodies, they can provide you with advice, information, and support around making a complaint / the complaints process, and can also independently investigate your complaint.

They will usually only consider investigating a complaint after it has been through our complaints procedure as they expect you to bring your concerns to our attention first and give us a chance to put things right, but you can contact them at any time to seek advice on the complaint process or if you are unhappy with how we are handling your complaint. Their details are: 

Housing Ombudsman Service

Deals with complaints from tenants and leaseholders about services provided by their landlord. 

Housing Ombudsman
PO Box 1484
Unit D

More information can be found on the Housing Ombudsman website and the housing complaints web page on the Ashfield District Council website. 

Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

Deals with services provided by the Council to residents / customers.

  • telephone: 0300 061 0614
  • postal address:

Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman
PO Box 4771

More information can be found on the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman website:

Unreasonable or unreasonably persistent complainants

On occasions, certain complaints can be difficult to resolve and can cause anxiety and distress to customers and employees. Whilst the aim of the Council is always to try to find a way to resolve matters, there are occasions when customers become unreasonable or unreasonably persistent in their actions to obtain the outcome that they want.

There is a need to ensure that these complaints are dealt with fairly. However, there is also a need to ensure that Council resources are used effectively and that other customers or employees do not suffer any detriment as a result of their behaviour. There is a separate policy to deal with any unreasonably persistent complainants, which can be found on this website:

Examples of behaviour that could fall under this policy include:

  • Repeated or excessive complaints, which are disproportionate to the problem
  • Submitting repeat complaints after complaints processes have been completed or repeatedly raising issues, which have occurred outside of the timeframes for complaints
  • Attempting to use the complaints procedure to pursue a personal vendetta against a member or officer of the Council
  • Refusing to co-operate with the complaints investigation process while still wishing the complaint to be resolved
  • Insisting on the complaint being dealt with in ways, which are incompatible with the adopted complaints procedure or with good practice

Examples of actions that could be taken may include:

  • Placing limits on the number and duration of contacts with employees per week or month
  • Offering a restricted time slot for necessary calls
  • Limiting the customer to one medium of contact (telephone, letter, email etc.)
  • Requiring the customer to communicate with one named employee.

These examples are not exhaustive and, for more detail and further examples, please see the Unreasonable or unreasonably persistent complaints policy. The policy also explains how decisions will be made and monitored.

We will not tolerate abusive and threatening behaviour in the reporting or investigating of complaints. If this occurs the case will be passed to a senior officer to investigate. Once a way forward has been determined a warning letter is sent out to the customer, which explains our position in relation to the contact we have received. This letter will set out a guide for the individual to follow when contacting us and explains the potential consequences if the guide is not followed.

Putting things right

We are committed to using the complaints process as a learning experience and, where appropriate, will put things right. This can be done in a variety of ways including an apology, an explanation, preventative action, payments for loss or damage, or, in exceptional circumstances, compensation. Where appropriate, we will seek to make amendments to policies or procedures or to the way a service is provided and will do so in a timely manner.

If something has gone wrong through this process, we will acknowledge this and set out the actions that we have already taken or intend to take to put things right.

Any remedy offered will reflect the extent of any and all service failures, and the level of detriment it has caused as a result.

Data Protection

Any information you give us is covered by the Data Protection guidelines (Data Protection Act 2018 and General Data Protection Regulations). This means that we will:

  • Keep personal information secure
  • Keep the complaint confidential as far as possible, with information only disclosed if necessary to properly investigate the matter
  • Not share it with other organisations without your permission, unless the law says we must.

We will keep effective records of all complaint investigations and outcome to inform service improvements.

Details of what you can expect when the council collects personal information, when and why it is collected, how it is used, conditions under which it may be disclosed, how we keep it secure and what rights you have in relation to the data we hold about you can be found in our privacy notice.

How we use your feedback to improve our services

Monitoring Feedback / Satisfaction

We are committed to improving service delivery through the complaints reporting and feedback process. If you make a complaint, you will be encouraged to provide feedback by completing a satisfaction survey on how your complaint was handled and your satisfaction with the outcome. These learning outcomes will be used to help us to improve services.

In addition, our complaints and compliments performance feedback is reported to senior management on a quarterly basis, and also to Councillors.

In respect of Housing complaints, performance is also reported to tenant groups on a quarterly basis and in a report to tenants on an annual basis.

Managers should ensure that they monitor and review outcomes of all feedback that they receive within their departments to identify trends and to use them for discussion at team meetings and staff performance development reviews.

Learning from complaints

We understand the importance of complaints in providing valuable feedback on the quality of services we provide to residents. The Council do not see complaints as negative, as the outcomes are used to help improve the services we provide to our customer and appreciate that high complaint volumes can be expected as we have adopted an open and accessible Complaints Policy.

Investigating officers are encouraged to identify and implement any learning outcomes from complaints, to ensure that we provide the best service possible to our customers. Learning Outcomes are tracked and reported within and outside of the Council to demonstrate how we intend to improve satisfaction for our customers through the complaints process.


The Assistant Director – Customer Experience is responsible for co-ordinating the recording of complaints relating to all Council Services, with the exception of complaints from our tenants or leaseholders, made in respect of Housing, ensuring compliance with relevant timescales and they can be contacted as follows:

Ashfield District Council
Customer Services
Council Offices
Urban Road
Kirkby in Ashfield
NG17 8DA

The Consumer Standards Lead Officer is the designated Housing Complaints Officer and is responsible for co-ordinating the recording of complaints from our tenants and leaseholders in respect of Housing, ensuring compliance with relevant timescales / complaint handling code and they can be contacted as follows:

Ashfield District Council
Housing and Asset Directorates
Council Offices
Urban Road
Kirkby in Ashfield
NG17 8DA

Executive Director – Operations is the senior lead person accountable for housing related complaint handling and learning.

Member responsible for complaints

The Elected Member Responsible for Complaints is the Executive Lead Member for Customer and Digital Experience.

The Member Responsible for Complaints supports a positive complaint handling culture within the Council and ensures that Cabinet receives regular information on complaints that provides insight on our complaint handling performance.

Managers within each service area are responsible for co-ordinating the resolution and responses in respect of complaints, working with their teams to do this before sharing the information with the relevant contact.

Publication of the Complaints and Compliments Policy

The Council’s Complaints and Compliments Policy is advertised on our website and contains details about how the ombudsman services can support complainants that are dissatisfied with Council services provision. A hard copy of the policy is available on request.

The complaints process is also advertised on the housing section of our website. The tenant and leaseholder’s rights to complain to the Council regarding services we have provided as their landlord, are detailed in the relevant handbooks and within the tenancy agreement. Tenants are also advised of their right to complain, where to find more information about the complaints policy, and the Housing Ombudsman Service in periodic communication to them (usually in the form of an annual tenant magazine / newsletter). Details of the Housing Ombudsman Service are also displayed in the public reception areas of our registered offices.