Who can complain?
The person who makes the complaint must either be the person receiving the services or a person complaining on behalf of the person receiving the services. This can include children and young people, their parents, carers or legal guardians or someone who has the permission of the person receiving the services to represent them.
How to make a complaint
If things do go wrong, the LA have a complaints procedure you can use to have them look into your complaint and put matters right as quickly as they can. It is important to make your complaint as soon as possible because they may not be able to consider your complaint if it is about something that happened over 12 months ago.
All complaints now go through the Customer Relations Team. They would ideally like you to use the online complaint form on the Surrey County Council website that one team is able to track and monitor all complaints coming into the LA.
Please note that this online form times out after 40 minutes so you may wish to type your information onto a Word document so you can copy and paste it into the form before your time runs out. Your complaint is not registered until you have a SUR number.
Stage 1 – Local resolution
Complaints are first responded to by the responsible service area that you are complaining about because the LA want to resolve complaints quickly and as close to the point of service they can.
Their aim is to provide a full response within 10 working days. If they are due to take longer they must let you know. They will also tell you how to progress your complaint if you remain unhappy.
When you make a complaint it is worth recording when the 10 days are up and chase if there is no response. A reply should be received without ‘unnecessary delay’.
If you can’t use the online tool, you could: complain in person, over the telephone or in writing but the online form will ensure that nothing is missed or lost.
We advise that your stage 1 complaint is in writing where possible, e.g. in an email or letter, so you have proof it was sent. We also advise you include “Stage 1 complaint” as a subject title. If it’s in person ask for the LA to record your conversation in writing.
What information do you need to provide?
For your complaint to be dealt with quicker it would be useful to provide as much information as possible, including:
- Where the incident or event took place
- Relevant dates
- Names of council staff involved
- Any reference numbers you may have been given
- The service you were expecting to receive and how that differed from the service you received
You can also explain briefly what you think the LA should do to put the matter right or how they could have done things differently. You can also write things down in chronological order (see table below).
IMPORTANT: SUR Reference
Once you complete the online form a reference will be generated in the subject line – a “Complaint reference SUR number”. It is important to include this with any further emails you send (by replying to the email). This way all correspondence will be linked to your complaint. SUR highlights it is a Surrey issue.
At any point you have an issue you can email firstname.lastname@example.org but explain there has been an issue and what it was, e.g. you got an error message but always give your ‘SUR number’ if you have one.
Stage 2 – Review
Stage 2 deals with two types of complaint:
1) those that have not been resolved at Stage 1 and
2) those that are complex and require detailed investigation. The purpose is to establish if there has been any fault by the council in delivering its services.
Your complaint will be passed to a Customer Relations Officer who should be independent of the service you are complaining about. They will review your complaint and explore your concerns in more detail.
This can lead to:
- a referral back to the service you are complaining about with a request to reconsider all or specific parts of your complaint
- a mediated meeting offered or
- in exceptional circumstances a full investigation
If the LA decide to carry out a further investigation they will aim to provide a response within 20 working days. If the investigator needs to confirm the details of your complaint with you it will be 20 working days from that point. (There is no timescale for the investigator to ask you for more details). A reply should be received without ‘unnecessary delay’.
If, for any reason, the investigator is unable to keep to this timescale they should let you know and keep you updated.
Sometimes complaints need a formal investigation or review so an Independent Complaints Investigator (c) may be employed/instructed to help in some cases.
At a stage 2 complaint it is standard practice for yourselves (as the complainant) and the investigator (internal or external) to agree a summarised statement of your concerns and issues.
This can be written as bullet points outlining the main issues of the complaint. You would then write a formal letter or email to sit alongside the agreed statement of the complaint.
This summarised statement will ensure that the investigator has understood the points of your concern correctly so they can investigate the complaint.
You can also add a list of what has happened in chronological order (latest/newest at the top moving down in history). This would also be useful moving forward for Court Hearings or other complaints. You could have:
|Date||What happened / occurred||Outcome|
|Monday 8th May 2019||Annual Review||See notes from meeting. LA to look at other schools. EHCP to be updated with new EP report.|
Who is in the Customer Relations Team?
Jessica Brooke – Team Manager Mobile
Hilary Moore – Senior Customer Relations Officer (SEN)
Customer Relations Officers:
Kate Sandow (supporting the SE Area)
Caroline Phillips (supporting the SW Area)
Corinne Evans (supporting the NW Area)
Berni Evans (supporting the NE Area)
Alan Wood – Senior Business Support Officer
After you have made your complaint or at any time during your complaint:
You can contact the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGO) at any time but they are the final stage for complaints about councils. They will normally expect you to have completed all stages of our complaints procedure before considering your complaint: They are the final stage for complaints about councils.
Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman:
Address: PO Box 4771, Coventry, CV4 0EH
Phone: 0300 061 0614
Text: ‘call back’ to 0762 481 1595
The Information Commissioner
If your complaint is about whether or not the LA have complied with the Data Protection Act or the Freedom of Information Act you can contact the Information Commissioner:
Address: Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF
Phone: 01625 545 745
How to make a complaint about the NHS:
To complain about an NHS service or services, please see the link below:
How to make a complaint about Adult Social Care:
To complain about Adult Social Care, please see the link below:
If you have a query about how to respond to complaints please contact Adult Social Care Customer Relations Team.
- Telephone: 01483 518300.
- Email: email@example.com
Complaints about a School
Firstly you should get a copy of the Schools Complaint policy. This should be on their website. (Sometimes it is best to search “name of school Complaints Policy) as sometimes the policy is well hidden!).
In accordance with Section 29(1) of the Education Act 2002, all maintained schools and maintained nursery schools must have and publish procedures to deal with all complaints relating to their school and to any community facilities or services that the school provides, for which there are no separate (statutory) procedures.
Surrey’s model complaints procedure is as follows:
Express concern to appropriate member of school staff.
This maybe the SENCo.
If no satisfactory outcome then:
Contact the Headteacher to investigate complaint.
If no satisfactory outcome then:
Contact the Chair of Governors to investigate complaint.
If no satisfactory outcome then:
Contact the Clerk to Governors for a Complaint Review by governors.
You can also request the LA Area Schools Officer (ASO) to assist with resolving concerns and/or complaint if the school ‘buys in’ to their support.
You could write to the Secretary of State for Education. The Secretary of State is responsible for the work of the Department for Education, including:
- early years
- children’s social care
- teachers’ pay
- the school curriculum
- school improvement
- academies and free schools
- further education
- higher education and
- apprenticeships and skills.
You are also able to email Ofsted.
Ofsted will not usually consider a complaint if you have not first followed the school’s or academy’s, local authority’s or Education Skills and Funding Agency’s complaints procedure. This includes writing to the Secretary of State for Education.
If the school is an academy and you feel that the governing body or board of trustees have acted unreasonably about your concerns, you can write to the Education Skills and Funding Agency (ESFA):
- Postal Address: The Education and Skills Funding Agency, Cheylesmore House, Quinton Road, Coventry CV1 2WT
- Or email complaints.ESFA@education.gov.uk
Independent school or a place that provides education only for students aged over 16
Ofsted cannot consider complaints about independent schools or places that provide education only for people over the age of 16.
Independent School Inspectorate (ISI) carry out inspections.
For independent schools you should write to the school first.
For provisions that provide education only for people over the age of 16, you should write to the provision first.
If you are unhappy with their response, you can send your complaint in writing to:
- Postal Address: The Education and Skills Funding Agency, Cheylesmore House, Quinton Road, Coventry CV1 2WT.
- Or email: complaints.ESFA@education.gov.uk
Lots of our users will ask how they can get in contact with their Councillors or the Directors. Their details are below but the LA will always ask that you use the Customer Relations link on page 1, repeated here:
You can contact your local county councillor to make enquiries on your behalf. You can find your County Councillor here: https://mycouncil.surreycc.gov.uk/mgFindMember.aspx
Your Borough or District Council can be found here: https://www.writetothem.com/
Directors in Surrey:
Executive Director of Children, Families and Lifelong Learning
Education Lifelong Learning and Culture: