How to make a complaint

Making a complaint
How to make a complaint

Inverclyde Council is committed to providing high quality customer services. We value complaints and use information from them to help us improve our services.  If something goes wrong, or you are dissatisfied with our services, please tell us.

Who can complain?

Anyone can make a complaint to us, including representatives of someone (providing they have been given consent to) who is dissatisfied with our service.

How long do I have to make a complaint?

Normally, you must make your complaint within six months of:

  • the event you want to complain about, or
  • Finding out that you have a reason to complain, but no longer than 12 months after the event itself.

In exceptional circumstances, we may be able to accept a complaint after the time limit.  If you feel that the time limit should not apply to your complaint, please tell us why.

The council will then let you know as to whether it is possible to investigate your complaint.

What is a complaint?

We regard a complaint as any expression of dissatisfaction about our action, or lack of action, or about the standard of service provided by us, or on our behalf.

What can I complain about?

You can complain about things like:

  • failure to provide a service
  • products and services that were provided by the council, but not to an appropriate standard/inadequate (e.g. poor quality street cleaning or cancellation of benefit in error)
  • service requests or queries that were not answered or actioned within the agreed timescales
  • treatment by, or attitude of, a member of staff
  • missed appointments or call outs
  • disagreement with a decision where the customer cannot use another procedure (for example an appeal) to resolve the matter
  • the council’s failure to follow the appropriate administrative process
  • Matters that relate to council policies, but only where the complaint relates specifically to the way the matter were administered.

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

What can't I complain about?

There are some things you can't raise as a complaint.

  • A routine first time request for a service, for example a housing repair or action on antisocial behaviour, a broken street light, a blocked drain or graffiti. these are handled as service requests, not complaints
  • a request for information or an explanation of a policy or practice, these are handled as enquiries
  • requests for compensation from the council (including matters which are in the hands of the council's insurers)
  • issues that are in court, or have already been heard by a court or a tribunal
  • a disagreement with a decision where a formal route of appeal exists (e.g. council tax or planning) these should be progressed through the relevant appeal route
  • an attempt to reopen a previously concluded complaint, or to have a complaint reconsidered where we have already given our final decision

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

How Do I Complain?

You can complain in person at any of our offices, premises (e.g. libraries, museums, customer service centre etc.), by phone, in writing and email.

By telephone to the relevant department.

By email at download and print the pdf form to the left of this page or download and complete the word version.

Send your complaint by post to:

Inverclyde Council
Municipal Buildings
Inverclyde PA15 1LY

It is easier for us to resolve complaints if you make them quickly and directly to the service concerned.  So please talk to a member of our staff at the service you are complaining about.  Then they can try to resolve any problems on the spot.

When complaining, tell us:

  • your full name and address
  • your contact numbers, email address and best times to contact you.
  • as much information as you can about the complaint
  • what has gone wrong
  • how you want to resolve the matter

What happens when I have complained?

We will always tell you who is dealing with your complaint.

Our complaints procedure has two stages.

Stage one: frontline resolution

We aim to resolve complaints quickly and close to where we provided the service.  This could mean an on-the-spot apology and explanation if something has clearly gone wrong and immediate action to resolve the problem,

We will give you our decision in stage one in five working days or less, unless there are exceptional circumstances.

If we can’t resolve your complaint at this stage, we will explain why and tell you what you can do next.

We will always try to deal with your complaint quickly. If it is clear that the matter will need a detailed investigation, we will tell you and keep you updated on our progress.

If you are dissatisfied with our response, you can ask us to consider your complaint at Stage two.  We might suggest that you take your complaint to Stage two.

You may choose to do this immediately or sometime after you get out initial decision.

Stage two: Investigation

Stage two deals with two types of complaint:  those that have not been resolved at Stage one and those that are complex and require detailed investigation and we may do this immediately.

We will look at your complaint at this stage if:

  • you are dissatisfied with our response at Stage one: Frontline resolution
  • you refuse to co-operate with Stage one: Frontline resolution
  • the issue raised is complex and requires detailed investigation
  • the complaint has been identified as serious, high risk or high profile

When using stage two we will:

  • We will acknowledge your complaint within three working days and will give you our decision as soon as possible.
  • Discuss your complaint with you to understand why you remain dissatisfied and establish what outcome you are looking for.
  • Give you a full response to the complaint as soon as possible and within 20 working days, unless there is clearly a good reason for needing more time.

If our investigation will take longer than 20 days, we will tell you.We will agree revised time limits with you and keep you updated on progress

What If I m still dissatisfied?

After we have fully investigated your complaint, if you remain dissatisfied with our decision or the way we have handled your complaint, you can ask the SPSO to consider it.

We will tell you how to do this when we send you our final decision.

You can contact the SPSO

In Person                                                       By Post

SPSO                                                            Freepost SPSO
Bridgeside House
99 McDonald Road
EH7 4NS                                                  

Freephone: 0800 377 7330
Online contact:    
Mobile site:

Getting help to make a complaint

We understand that you may be unable, or reluctant, to make a complaint yourself.  We accept complaints from the representative of a person who is dissatisfied with our service.  We can take complaints from a friend, relative, or an advocate, if you have given them your consent to complain for you.

Local Advocacy
Circles Network
Advocacy Service Inverclyde
21 Grey Place
Inverclyde PA15 1YF

Phone: 01475 730797
Fax: 01475 727407

We are committed to making our service easy to use for all members of the community.  In line with our statutory equalities duties, we will always ensure that reasonable adjustments are made to help customers access and use our services.  If you have trouble putting your complaint in writing, or if you want this information in another language or format, such as large font or Braille, please tell us in person, contact us on 01475 717171 or for hearing impaired 01475 717677 (office hours) email us at

Complaints about Social Care

Inverclyde Health and Social Care Partnership manages social work and social care services on behalf of Inverclyde Council.  From time to time people are unhappy with the service they receive.

If you have a complaint about a service you have received, please visit the social care complaints web page or contact us below:

Write to:

The Complaints Officer - Inverclyde HSCP
Quality & Development Team 
Hector McNeil House
Clyde Square 
Inverclyde PA15 1NB

Phone: 01475 715280

You can make a comment or compliment about social care services through the normal channels, the complaints procedure can be found on the web page link at the foot of this page.

If you are not satisfied or find it difficult to complain directly to those involved you should use this information to make your complaint.  Please write to the Corporate Administration Officer, outlining your complaint in your own words.

How will your complaint be handled? 

Someone will get back to you within 3 working days to either acknowledge your complaint, or to get clarification on any points so that we can investigate your complaint properly and thoroughly.

You will receive a written reply within 20 working days. If the investigation of your complaint takes longer than this, the Investigating Officer will contact you to explain why and agree an extension to this timescale with you. A letter explaining why there is a delay and the agreed timescale for a written response will be sent to you.

If you would like to speak to someone for advice or help about making a complaint you can contact:

  • Citizens Advice Bureau, Patient Advice and Support Service
  • Inverclyde Advocacy Services

See under Contacts on this page for details.

For more information please read our Complaint Handling Procedure