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eleafletHow do I complain?

Every council's social services department must have a complaints procedure and must be able to tell you how to make a complaint.

How do I complain?

By law, every council's social services department must have a complaints procedure.

You should be told:

  • how to make a complaint
  • how quickly they should deal with it, and
  • where you can get help with making a complaint.

Normally, councils deal with complaints in a three-stage process. They will initially try to deal with complaints informally, perhaps by seeing if you and the social services officer you usually deal with can sort out things between you.

Your complaint should normally be acknowledged within three working days of the council receiving it. And, if the complaint needs investigating, you should get a response in writing as soon as possible and normally within six months at the latest.

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What if I'm not satisfied after complaining?

If you can't solve your problem informally, then you may want (or be asked) to go on to a more 'formal' stage. This is usually an investigation by either:

  • someone who is not involved in the local service, or
  • the complaints manager (in England) or complaints officer (in Wales), or someone they appoint.

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What if I'm still unhappy?

If you're unhappy with the result of the formal stage, you can ask for your complaint to be examined by an independent panel (in Wales) or a review panel (in England).

Review panels will include at least two people who are separate from the council. You can go to the panel meeting and you can have someone there to speak for you if you want.

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Can I take the matter further?

If you are still unhappy, you should contact the Local Government Ombudsman  (England) or Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.

Your local councillor or Member of Parliament may also be able to help.

You may be able to take the matter up with the Secretary of State for Health (in England) or the Welsh Assembly (in Wales). However, you will need to get legal advice before you do this.

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What if I think the council has broken the law?

If you think your local council has broken the law (for example, if it refuses to assess your care needs or has reached an unreasonable decision about the level of care services you're entitled to), you may be able to pursue legal action (called 'judicial review').

To do this, you will need to get legal advice.

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What if I can't afford legal help?

If you cannot afford to pay for a solicitor, and you meet other conditions, you may be able to get legal aid

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What you can do now:

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