Feedback and complaints
Corporate feedback procedure
Due to the unprecedented situation in relation to Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the requirement for operational services within Devon County Council to redirect their resources to managing the crisis, this is impacting on the Council’s ability to deal with complaints. We recognise the rapidly evolving situation is causing uncertainty and we appreciate your support and understanding at this challenging time. In line with government and Ombudsman guidance, Devon County Council is assessing individual complaints as they are received, and only accepting those that raise high risk or safeguarding matters. The County Council will not progress any other complaints at this time but this position will be reviewed following government guidance changes.
Why is your feedback important?
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. Therefore, 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.
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 your 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.
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 (please see contact details at the end of this page). The Customer Relations Team may be able to help resolve your concerns informally. If not, they can tell you more about how to make a complaint.
I need help to progress my complaint – what do I do?
If you need help to progress your complaint, please contact the Customer Relations Team who will be able to discuss your requirements with you.
We understand and respect that some people may need advice and support from an independent advocate to make their complaint, to pursue it, to understand the process and to cope with the outcome.
We acknowledge that this is particularly important for people who are vulnerable or find it difficult to make their views heard, or for complainants whose first language is not English and those with communication difficulties.
If you need us to make a reasonable adjustment to progress your complaint please let us know and we will work with you, so that your complaint can be progressed.
Making a complaint
If your concerns cannot be immediately resolved, we can register them within the complaint’s 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, we can provide you with a written record of your complaint on request.
We will ask a manager to investigate your complaint and provide you with a response or update within 20 working days. If the service is not able to provide you with 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 may be inappropriate. In such cases, the Customer Relations Team will seek a suitable alternative manager to respond.
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
What if I am still unhappy?
We can usually resolve complaints locally, but in the unfortunate event that you remain dissatisfied with the Council’s response you can contact 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
Advice line:0300 061 0614
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. If we decide not to accept your complaint, we will explain why.
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 care, please contact the Customer Relations Team.
Is there anything I cannot complain about?
The corporate feedback procedure is not applicable if:
- you have left it more than 12 months since knowing about the problem
- the matter has not affected you personally or caused you an injustice
- it is about personnel matters (Such as your employment or disciplinary issues)
- you have, or had, a right to appeal or take legal action, and we think it is reasonable for you to have done so. This might be to:
- a tribunal (such as the Special Educational Needs Tribunal)
- a government minister (such as a planning appeal)
- the courts
The council is unable to respond to complaints about schools. Schools have their own complaints policies and procedures which they are responsible for.
The procedure also cannot handle complaints that relate to the conduct of any county councillor. Any concerns should be raised with the monitoring officer. Further information about making a complaint about a councillor is available here.
Individuals, companies or organisations in a contractual or professional relationship with the council should raise any concerns they may have with the relevant manager or contract manager within the council. They will not be considered through this procedure.
If you make a complaint that we are unable to deal with, we will write to you to explain why.
Should you wish to provide feedback, make a complaint or require this document in a different format such as large print, please:
Write to us: FREEPOST DCC CUSTOMER RELATIONS (this is the only address line required, and you do not need to use a stamp).
Email us: email@example.com
Call us: 0800 212 783