Compliments, Comments and Complaints

  • Please ensure you complete the appropriate form for your compliment, comment or complaint.  The separate forms for general complaints, Adults Social Care complaints and Children’s Social Care complaints can be found at the end of the related section as detailed below.

Compliments

If you want to say thank you or well done you can do this face to face, in writing or by using the online form. You might want other people to know that someone has done a good job, so we make sure that the individual and their manager are informed of all compliments.

Leave a compliment

Comments

If you make a comment or a suggestion we will write to you to say what we are going to do with it. We might ask a manager or the Participation Officer to talk to you about it. We might ask if you want to help us to plan changes.

Make a comment/ suggestion 

Complaints


At Sefton Council we want to give you the best possible service we can. We welcome your feedback on our services, as it gives us the opportunity to see where we can make improvements. However, if you have an issue with a service you can:

We recognise that deciding on whether an issue should or should not be treated as a complaint can be confusing. There are however, some key points that should help in determining whether your issue should be dealt with as a complaint or as a service request.

A straightforward way to decide whether the issues being raised should be treated as a complaint is to read the following scenarios:

  • The council has done something which you consider the council should not have done - For example: "I want to complain because you sent the bailiffs to my home to collect unpaid Council Tax but I don't owe you anything."
  • The council has failed to do something that it should have done - For example: "I want to complain because I took time off work to meet the building control inspector but he failed to turn up," or "I have written to you 5 times for an application form and you still have not sent me one."
  • The quality of the service provided by the council is not good enough - For example: "I want to complain because the information on your website about applying for parking permit is incorrect."

If any of these scenarios fit your request, then your issue is likely to be best dealt with under the complaints procedure.  

When making your complaint you need to:

  • provide your current contact details and the names, addresses or department of anyone else involved in the complaint
  • say if you are complaining on behalf of someone else - we will need evidence from them that they have agreed to this
  • clearly list the main things you are concerned about, what you think we've done wrong, how it has affected you and what you want us to do to put things right
  • tell us what happened and when
  • provide any correspondence that is relevant to your complaint
  • include the names of the officers who are dealing with you, if known
  • Include any relevant reference numbers - for example, the reference number of your housing benefit claim.

The complaints process does not include issues where there is a right of appeal (such as refusal of planning permission, tripping claim, issue of a Penalty Charge Notice, blue badge, housing or council tax benefit appeals).

Make a general complaint

How to complain or raise concerns

We aim to provide services that meet the very best standards which support and promote independence, health, well-being and choices, respecting dignity and safeguarding adults in Sefton.

However, if something goes wrong please let us know and we will try to put things right and make improvements. We would encourage you to raise your concerns directly with staff concerned or the manager of the service, as it may be possible to sort out the problems straight away. Reporting an issue about our services or the services commissioned by us will not adversely affect your current or future treatment.

Who can report an issue? 

Anyone who is receiving, or has received Adult Social Care services can complain. If you are unable to complain yourself, then someone can act on your behalf with your written consent.

What happens next?

  • You will receive a written acknowledgment within 3 working days
  • Your complaint will be fully investigated
  • You may be invited to attend a meeting to discuss your concerns
  • You will be kept informed of any delays in investigating your complaint
  • Where appropriate, steps will be taken to improve the quality of services
  • If you are still not satisfied, we welcome the opportunity to try to resolve your complaint to your satisfaction through further local resolution. We may appoint an independent investigator.

Alternatively, you can refer your complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman.

Downloads

Adult Social Care Complaints Procedure (pdf 320KB)

Make an Adults Social Care complaint

How to complain or raise concerns

First of all we will try to sort out any problems and deal with concerns as quickly as possible. Most will be sorted out within 2 days by your carer or social worker. If they can’t do this, or if you want someone else to deal with it we will follow these stages.

Stage 1 - We will ask a manager to look into the complaint and talk to you about it. We will try to agree a way to sort it out. We will write you a letter saying what we have agreed to do. If you are not happy with what has been done to sort the complaint out, you or your advocate can ask for it to go to Stage 2.

Stage 2 - At Stage 2 we ask people who do not work for Children’s Services to help us sort out the complaint. These people are called “Independent”. We will ask them to investigate the complaint. A senior manager will send you a copy of the report with a letter telling you what Children’s Services are going to do. If you want, we will meet with you and your advocate to explain this in more detail.

Stage 3 - If you think that:

  • the report or letter at Stage 2 was wrong or had bits missing
  • the complaints procedure has not been followed
  • Children’s Services has not tried its best to sort out the complaint
  • you or your advocate can ask for the complaint to go to Stage 3.

3 independent people who have not dealt with the complaint before will meet with you, the independent people who did the Stage 2 investigation and someone from Children’s Services. They will ask questions to find out what we have done to sort your problem out. 

After the meeting the panel will write a report to say what they think Children’s Services needs to do to sort out the complaint.

Referral to Ombudsman

If you are still unhappy you can contact the Local Government Ombudsman.

Downloads

Childrens Complaints Procedure (pdf 308KB)

Make a Children’s Social Care complaint

Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans for children and young people aged up to 25 were introduced on 1 September 2014 as part of the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) provisions in the Children and Families Act 2014.

An (EHC) plan is available for children and young people aged up to 25 in Sefton who need Special Educational Needs support. EHC plans identify educational, health and social needs and set out the additional support to meet those needs. 

Parents can request an assessment. Alternatively, A young person can request an assessment themselves if they’re aged 16 to 25. A request can also be made by anyone else who thinks an assessment may be necessary, including doctors, health visitors, teachers, parents and family friends. You should make a written request and keep a copy of your letter. Your letter should set out why you believe your child has or may have special educational needs, and why you believe they may need special educational provision to be made through an EHC Plan.

The Local Authority will inform the parents of their decision whether to assess within 6 weeks of receipt of the request for assessment. If the local authority refuses to agree to a request for an EHC needs assessment, parents and young people over 16 years have a legal right to appeal to the First-tier Tribunal – Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND)

If the local authority decides to make a plan, it has 14 weeks in which to write the draft plan, issue it, and allow the requestor at least 15 days to comment with amendments or alterations. They will issue a final plan within 20 weeks of the date they received the request for an EHC needs assessment.

If the local authority decides not to make a plan, they will write to the parents within 16 weeks from the date they received the request for an EHC needs assessment telling them that they have the right to appeal, again to the First-tier Tribunal – Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND). 

During this process applicants should direct any correspondence to the Sefton SEN and Inclusion Service at:  

SENIS@sefton.gov.uk

0151 934 2347

Sefton SEN and Inclusion Service
Ainsdale Hope Centre,
Sandringham Road,
Ainsdale,
PR8 2PJ

Complaining if the LA does not respond 

If you would like to pursue a complaint (e.g. about the Local Authority process or timeliness of response) please use the following link and choose Children and Young People Services. 

Make a complaint

Stage 1 - we will ask a manager to investigate your complaint and we will respond within 15 working days. If you are satisfied with the response we will make a note that the complaint has been resolved. However, if you are not happy with the response you can ask for this to go to Stage 2.

Stage 2 - we will ask a named senior manager to investigate your complaint and respond within 10 working days. The named senior manager may be from a different area of work to the original complaint. If you are satisfied with the response we will make a note that the complaint has been resolved, however, if you are not happy with the response, you can contact the Local Government Ombudsman.

The first thing you have to do is to raise your concerns with the head teacher of the school concerned who will investigate your complaint. 

If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of the headteacher's investigation, you should complain to the chair of governors or academy trustees. The school will tell you how to do this.  

If the governors or trustees have dealt with your complaint and you are still unhappy, you can complain to the Department for Education.

Complain about how a whole school is run

You can complain to Ofsted if you think a school is not run properly. You must have already followed the school’s complaints procedure.

You should get a response within 30 working days. It will tell you if Ofsted will investigate or not, and why.

To report an issue about a Councillor you can complete the complain about a Councillor form.

This covers a member or co-opted member of Sefton Council, or a member of any Town or Parish Council within the Borough of Sefton who has failed to comply with the Code of Conduct. 

The matter will then be considered by the Council's Initial Assessment Sub-Committee. 

Please note that the Committee can only deal with complaints about the behaviour of a member. It will not deal with complaints about things that are not covered by the members' Code of Conduct as set out in chapter 2 of the Constitution. 

What happens next?

If you've paid us a compliment or provided general feedback or comments we will pass this on to the relevant staff.

If you have made a complaint there are two potential stages, however, we aim to resolve your complaint at Stage 1. 

Stage 1 - we will ask a manager to look into your complaint and we will respond within 15 working days. If you are satisfied with the response we will make a note that the complaint has been resolved. However, if you are not happy with the response you can ask for this to go to Stage 2.

Stage 2 - we will ask a named senior manager to investigate your complaint and respond within 10 working days. The named senior manager may be  from a different area of work to the original complaint. If you are satisfied with the response we will make a note that the complaint has been resolved, however, if you are not happy with the response, you can contact the Local Government Ombudsman. 

We cannot accept a new complaint about an issue that has already been through both stages of our procedure. Please also see our policy on Vexations and Unfocussed Complaints and Data Requests

What about anonymous complaints?

We understand that it might be difficult for you to complain because you are worried that your complaint could result in a poorer service to your household. Please be assured that we treat all complaints against the Council in the strictest confidence and that it is your right to complain.

If you do not provide us with a contact name or address, it will not be possible for us to get back to you with the outcome of the investigation. 

 

Whistleblowing 

Whistleblowing is a procedure which enables employees, councillors and members of the public to express any concerns they have about illegal or illegitimate practices involving the council.

You can raise your concerns without fear of victimisation, discrimination or disadvantage.

You can view Sefton Council's full Whistleblowing Policy in the list of documents below

Corporate Complaints Policy (word 316KB)
How to make a complaint (Easy Read) (pdf 569KB)
Whistleblowing policy (word 63KB)

Last Updated on 10 October 2019