You are here:

Complaining about council services

Last updated 30 June 2014

How to complain about Council services


If you are unable to complete our online form please email wfdirect@walthamforest.gov.uk, call 020 8496 3000, or visit our Customer Services Centre or a Library Plus for advice on how to complete the form. 

How to complain about social services and schools

These departments have separate complaint procedures, which you can access via the links below:

How the Council will respond to your complaint

Depending on the nature of the complaint, we may be able to deal with your complaint quickly and informally by telephoning you to let you know that the problem has been resolved. In most other cases, it may be more appropriate to write and tell you what action we have taken, or explain our position. Learning from the feedback we get through complaints helps us to improve the services we provide to you. We will take a balanced approach to investigating your complaint and our response will focus on the specific issues you raise. Where there has been a service failing we will give you a clear apology and account of the corrective actions that will be taken.

When we receive your complaint we will send you an acknowledgement within 3 working days. We will tell you who is looking into your complaint and send you a full reply within 20 working days as set out in the Council's complaint s procedure.

The Council's complaints procedure

The Council has a two-stage complaints procedure, which you can use to complain about our services.

Before submitting your complaint you might wish to review our frequently asked questions.

All new complaints received by letter, fax, phone, e-mail, complaints form or in person, will initially be dealt with at stage 1 of our procedure.

Stage 1

  • When we receive your complaint, we will register it on our Customer Database and send you an acknowledgement letter within 3 working days of receiving the complaint.
  • The letter will include a reference number, the contact details of the person who will be responsible for investigating and responding to the complaint and the date by when the Council will send a response to you.
  • At Stage 1, the manager of the service area you are complaining about will usually investigate your complaint.
  • We will send a Stage 1 response letter within 20 working days from the date when we receive the complaint. If we cannot meet this deadline, we will write to advise you the reason for the delay and provide you with a revised response date
  • When we send our response, we will advise you of your right to escalate your complaint to the second stage of our procedure if you remain unhappy with our response

Stage 2

  • If you are unhappy with our response at Stage 1, you can request an independent investigation of your complaint to be carried out on behalf of the Council's Chief Executive.
  • In order to request this, you should contact the Council's Learning from Complaints Team within 25 working days from the date when you receive our Stage 1 response, clearly stating the reasons why you want to escalate your complaint
  • You can contact the Complaints Team using any of the following options:
    • By writing to The Complaints Manager at Waltham Forest Town Hall, Walthamstow E17 4JF
    • By telephoning Customer Services on 020 8496 3000, clearly stating that you wish to make a Stage 2 complaint; or
    • By sending an email to: complaints@walthamforest.gov.uk. If you choose this option, please ensure that the e-mail is clearly marked "Stage 2 complaint"
    • Your Stage 2 complaint will be registered on our Customer Database and we will send you an acknowledgement letter within 3 working days of receiving your complaint
  • The letter will include a reference number, the contact details of the Complaints Officer who will be responsible for investigating your complaint and the date by when you can expect a response
  • We will issue a Stage 2 response letter within 25 working days from the date when we receive your complaint. If we cannot meet this deadline, we will write to advise you the reason for the delay and provide you with a revised response date
  • When we send our response, we will advise you of your right to escalate your complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman, if you remain dissatisfied with our response

Local Government Ombudsman/ Housing Ombudsman 

If you are not satisfied with the response from the Council, you may refer your complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman or the Housing Ombudsman.  You will be given more details of how to contact the relevant Ombudsman when Council responds to your complaint. The Ombudsmen are independent of the Council and will investigate claims of maladministration or fault (for example, delay, procedures not being followed, unfair treatment). The Ombudsman may not investigate the complaint if it has not gone through the Council's complaint procedure first or if an appeal is taking place.

For more information

Policy on dealing with Unreasonable Behaviour

The Council is keen to positively and proactively work with residents to resolve issues, and recognise that at times, when you contact the local authority you may have reason to feel aggrieved, upset or distressed. However, this policy has been produced to create a joint understanding of what is considered acceptable and unacceptable behaviour when working with officers and councillors of Waltham Forest Council, including dealing with abusive, vexatious or persistent complaints, complainants and customers.  You can download a copy of the policy by clicking on LBWF Policy on Unreasonable Behaviour[1].pdfLBWF Policy on Unreasonable Behaviour[1].pdf

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Back to TOP

Contact details