Renfrewshire Council

Make a complaint about Renfrewshire Council

Who can make a complaint, what you can and can't complain about, how to make a complaint, what happens afterwards, if you're not happy with our response, complaints about care services, get help with making a complaint.

A complaint is any expression of dissatisfaction about our action, lack of action or the standard of service provided by us or someone on behalf of us.

If something goes wrong or you are not happy with our services, please tell us. 

It is important that we hear from you first-hand. You can highlight problems that we might have missed. We can then try to resolve your complaint quickly or give you an explanation about a decision we've made. This can prevent the same problems from happening again and will help us provide better services.

Who can make a complaint

Anyone who receives or asks for a service from us, or is directly affected by one of our services, can make a complaint.
This includes a relative, friend, advocate or advisor making a complaint on behalf of someone else. If you are making a complaint on someone else's behalf, you will normally need their written consent. 

Get help with making a complaint

If there are other procedures or rights of appeal that can help you resolve your concerns, we will give information and advice to help you.

What you can complain about

You can complain about:

  • a failure or refusal to provide a service
  • poor quality or standard of service
  • an unreasonable delay in providing a service
  • dissatisfaction with one of our policies or its impact on someone
  • failure to properly apply law, procedure or guidance when delivering a service
  • failure to follow the appropriate administrative process
  • the conduct, treatment by or attitude of a member of staff or contractor (except when the contractor handles the complaint themselves)
  • disagreement with a decision, unless there is another statutory procedure or appeals process for challenging that decision.

Your complaint may involve more than one council service or be about someone working on our behalf.

What you can't complain about

There are some things we can't deal with through our complaints handling procedure. 

These include:

  • a routine first-time request for a service 
  • a first-time report of a fault, for example, potholes or street lighting
  • a request for compensation only
  • issues that are in court or have already been heard by a court or a tribunal
  • disagreement with a decision where there is a statutory procedure for the decision, such as freedom of information requests or subject access requests
  • an established appeals process, such as appealing council tax, planning, or a parking tickets
  • disagreement with decisions based on social work recommendations determined by a court or other statutory body, such as a children's panel, parole board or mental health tribunal
  • a request for information under the Data Protection or Freedom of Information (Scotland) Acts
  • a grievance by a staff member or a grievance relating to employment or staff recruitment 
  • a concern raised internally by a member of staff, such as a whistleblowing concern
  • a concern about a child or an adult's safety
  • reopening or asking us to reconsider a complaint where we have already given our final decision
  • abuse or unsubstantiated allegations about our organisation or staff that are covered by our unacceptable behaviour policy
  • a concern about the actions or service of a different organisation, where we have no involvement, unless the other organisation is delivering services on our behalf.

If there are other procedures or rights of appeal to help you resolve your concerns, we will give information and advice to help you.

If you decide to take legal action, you should let us know as the complaint cannot then be considered under our complaints procedure.

How to make a complaint

It is easier for us to address complaints if you make them quickly and directly to the service concerned. Talk to a member of our staff at the service you are complaining about. They can then try to resolve the issue.

You can also make a complaint using our online complaints and compliments form.

Or you can make a complaint by:

When making a complaint, please tell us:

  • your full name and contact details
  • as much information as you can about the complaint
  • what has gone wrong
  • what you want us to do to resolve the issue.

Normally, you must make your complaint within six months of the event you want to complain about or within six months of finding out you have a reason to complain.

In exceptional circumstances, we may be able to accept a complaint after the time limit. If you feel the time limit does not apply to your complaint, you'll need to tell us why.

What happens after you've made a complaint

We will always tell you who is dealing with your complaint. Our complaints procedure has two stages.

Frontline response

We aim to respond to complaints quickly where possible or when you first tell us about the issue. This could mean an on-the-spot apology and explanation if something has gone wrong, or an immediate action to resolve the problem.  

Otherwise, we will give you our decision in five working days or less unless there are exceptional circumstances.

If you are not satisfied with the response we give at this stage, we will tell you what you can do next. 

If you choose to, you can take your complaint to the investigation stage. 

Investigation stage

An investigation deals with two types of complaints that:

  • have not been resolved at frontline response
  • clearly require investigation, and are handled directly as an investigation 

If you want to escalate your complaint to an investigation, you must ask us within:

  • six months of the event you want to complain about or finding out you have a reason to complain
  • two months of receiving your frontline response.

In exceptional circumstances, we may be able to accept an investigation complaint after the time limit. If you feel the time limit does not apply to your request for an investigation, you'll need to tell us why.

If we deal with your complaint as an investigation, we will:

  • acknowledge receipt of your complaint within three working days
  • confirm our understanding of the complaint and what outcomes you are looking for
  • try to resolve your complaint where we can - in some cases we may suggest using another  complaint resolution such as mediation
  • give you a full response as soon as possible, normally within 20 working days if we cannot resolve your complaint.

We will let you know if our investigation takes longer than 20 working days. We will tell you our revised time limits and keep you updated on the progress of your complaint.

If you are not happy with our response

If you are still dissatisfied with our final decision or the way we have handled your complaint or investigation, you can ask the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) to look at it.  

The SPSO are an independent organisation that investigates complaints. They are not an advocacy or support service.

You can ask the SPSO to look at your complaint if:

  • you have gone all the way through the council's complaints handling procedure
  • it is less than 12 months after the matter you want to complain about
  • your complaint has not been or is not being heard by a court or a tribunal.

You can contact the SPSO online, by phone or in writing. When making your complaint, give them copies of the main paperwork about your complaint, including the final response you received from us and your original letter of complaint, if you have it.

You can also get independent support or advocacy to help you progress your complaint.

There are some complaints that are not reviewed by the SPSO. If this is the case, we will tell you how to get an independent review when we give you our final response on your complaint.

Complaints about care services

If your complaint is about a care service we provide, you can choose to complain to us or to the Care Inspectorate. Find out more about the Care Inspectorate's complaints procedure or how to make a complaint on their website

Get help to make your complaint

We are committed to making our service easy to use for everyone. We will always make sure reasonable adjustments are made to help you to access and use our services.

If you are unable or reluctant to make a complaint yourself, you can get a friend, relative or an advocate to make a complaint for you. An advocate is an independent person or organisation who can speak on your behalf. You will need to give this person your consent to complain on your behalf.

You can find out more about advocates and how to find one in your area on the Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance website. They can also help you put your complaint in writing or give you this information in another language or format, such as large font or Braille.

You can also get free, independent and confidential advice from Citizens Advice Scotland.