Complaining about council services
How to complain about Council services
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.
The Council's complaints procedure
The Council has a two-stage complaints procedure, which you can use to complain about our services.
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.
- 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.When we cannot give you the name of the person who will be dealing with the complaint, we will provide you with details of the service area that the complaint has been referred to.
- 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
- 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 Complaints Team within 28 calendar 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 Room 104,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: email@example.com. 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,or the Housing 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 the 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
- See the Complaints FAQ for details about what is covered by the complaints procedure
- Visit our main complaints page for more information about complaints
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 LBWF Policy on Unreasonable Behaviour.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
- What is a complaint?
- How can I complain?
- I’ve been told that my issue is a service request, not a complaint. What is the difference?
- I’ve been told that my issue cannot be dealt with through the Council’s Complaints Procedure. What is the reason for this?
- Who can complain?
- Can somebody else help me with my complaint or complain on my behalf?
- Can I make an anonymous complaint?
- How long will it take you to deal with my complaint?
- What remedy to my complaint can I expect?
- I have a complaint about my request under the Freedom of Information Act or the Data Protection Act. Who can I contact about this?
- Can I complain about misconduct by Council staff?
- Can I complain about Council Policy or decisions made by Councillors?
- Can Councillors or Members of Parliament complain on my behalf?
- How can I report fraud or irregular activity?
- Useful contacts