Home chevron_right Council and democracy chevron_right About the council chevron_right Feedback and complaints chevron_right Make a general complaint

Make a general complaint

We always try to give you the best services possible, but sometimes that does not happen. Making a complaint can help fix problems and make sure they do not happen again.

Do you need help or want to report a problem?

Making a complaint is not the right way to ask for help or report a problem.

If you need help, you must contact the team you need help from. You should be able to find the information you need on this website, or you can call the contact centre on 01642 245432. You can only make a complaint if you ask for help and we do not give it.

If you want to report a problem, you can do it online. You can only make a complaint if you've already reported a problem and we have not done anything about it.

About your complaint

What you can complain about

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You can complain about:

  • a service we've provided, or someone has provided on our behalf
  • the behaviour or attitude of our staff
  • how well our staff speak English (this is called the 'fluency duty' and does not include things like accent or nationality)
  • behaviour which goes against our own policies

What you cannot complain about

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You cannot complain to us about:

  • a decision where you've already been told how to appeal (for example, planning applications, school admissions, and benefit decisions)
  • schools, care homes, and other private companies (you must complain directly to them)
  • services we do not provide (for example, your housing, public transport services, your energy and water supply, or the emergency services)
  • damage which you want to claim compensation for (you must make an insurance claim)

How to make a good complaint

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1. Report it quickly. The sooner you make a complaint, the sooner we can start looking into it. This can stop the problem getting any worse.

2. Make sure you're complaining about something we can help you with. You can find out more in the 'what you cannot complain about' section.

3. Give us all the information we need in your complaint. If you do not, it'll take us longer to look at your complaint. You'll need to tell us:

  • the person or team you're complaining about
  • what happened
  • when and where it happened
  • how you've been affected
  • how you'd like us to put it right
  • your contact details
  • your case number, if you're complaining about something for the second time

4. Keep it brief. Only tell us what's relevant to your complaint, and do not try to complain about multiple problems in one go. Use bullet points to break up the information.

5. Send evidence if you have any.

Make a complaint

If you'd like to make a complaint about our services, the quickest way to do it is online. We do not normally accept complaints about events or issues which happened more than 12 months ago.

Alternatively, you can email complaints@middlesbrough.gov.uk, or write to: Complaints Team, PO Box 500, Middlesbrough, TS1 9FT.

If you need help, call the Complaints Team on 01642 729814.

Our complaints procedures

We have four different complaints procedures. These help us to deal with complaints fairly and consistently.

Most complaints about council services are investigated using the corporate complaints policy. You can find out more in the 'how the corporate complaints policy works' section below.

Complaints about Children's Services, Adult Social Care, and councillors are investigated differently.

How the corporate complaints policy works

Initial complaint

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Your complaint will be sent to the complaints team. They'll let you know when they've received your complaint, usually within one working day.

We'll contact you if we need more information.

Some complaints can be dealt with immediately. If this is possible, the complaints team will do this, if you agree.

If your complaint cannot be dealt with within 5 working days, it will go to the formal complaints process.

Stage 1 (local resolution)

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A member of staff from the service you're complaining about will look at your complaint. It will not be the person or team your complaint is about. We call them the investigating officer.

The investigating officer will contact you as soon as possible. They'll double check the details of your complaint with you.

They'll also decide when they'll respond to your complaint by, and agree that date with you. It will not be any longer than 20 working days from the date they contact you. If it's not possible to meet this deadline, the investigating officer will contact you and let you know.

Once the investigating officer has looked into your complaint, they'll contact you to let you know what they've decided. This will be one of three things:

  • your complaint is upheld - meaning the council did something wrong
  • your complaint is partially upheld - meaning the council did something wrong
  • your complaint is not upheld - meaning the council did not do anything wrong

If we did something wrong, we'll apologise and tell you what we'll do to put things right.

The investigating officer will also tell you how to move to stage 2 of the complaints process if you're not happy with the investigation.

Stage 2 (investigation)

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If you're unhappy with our response and want to take your complaint further, you must let us know. You'll need to do this within 20 working days of us completing stage 1.

If we accept your request for a stage 2 investigation, a senior council officer will review your complaint. They will not work for the service you're complaining about.

They will contact you as soon as possible. They'll double check the details of your complaint and why you want a stage 2 investigation.

They will also agree when they'll respond to your complaint by, and agree that date with you. It will not be any longer than 20 working days from the date they contact you. If it's not possible to meet this deadline, they will contact you to provide an update and agree a new deadline with you.

They will look at your complaint and send a report to the head of the service you're complaining about. The Head of Service will look at the report and make a decision about your complaint. This will be one of three things:

  • your complaint is upheld - meaning the council did something wrong
  • your complaint is partially upheld - meaning the council did something wrong
  • your complaint is not upheld - meaning the council did not do anything wrong

If we did something wrong, we'll apologise and tell you what we'll do to put things right.

If you're still unhappy, you can complain to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO). You can also complain to the LGSCO if we refuse to take your complaint to stage 2, because we've already apologised and offered a way to fix the problem.

Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

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The LGSCO investigates complaints made to councils. It looks at whether the council did something wrong, for example when making a decision or providing a service. It also looks at whether there were any problems with how your complaint was handled.

You can visit the LGSCO website to find out more and make a complaint.