Young People's Zone

Different stages of the complaints procedure

Complaints about children's social care are dealt with differently to complaints about other things because the law says that local authorities must deal with them in the following way:

Stage 1 Informal StageStage 1 - Informal Stage

This is the first stage of the process and is often referred to as the ‘Informal Stage' or 'Local Resolution’.

Children’s Services should first write to you to say that they have received your complaint and that they will respond within 10 working days.

They may take up to 20 working days if the complaint is more complicated but they should let you know if they are doing this.

If you are unhappy with the response you have received, you can go to Stage 2 (see below).

It is important that you let them know if you want to go to Stage 2 within 28 days of receiving the Stage 1 response.

You can click here to write your Stage 1 complaint.

Stage 2 InvestigationStage 2 - Investigation

If you are not happy with your response from Stage 1 then you can ask to go to Stage 2. This stage is called a formal complaint or investigation. It is best to try to go to Stage 2 within 28 days of receiving the Stage 1 response.

The local authority will arrange for someone who is independent from the people you have complained about to look at your complaint.  

He/she will meet with you and talk through your complaint to ensure your concerns are taken seriously and you are treated fairly. It is important you say why you weren’t happy with the response from your Stage 1 complaint. 

The local authority should provide a response between 25 – 65 working days. You should receive a written report which tells you the outcome of the investigation.

Click here to write a Stage 2 complaint.

If you are unhappy with the response you have received, you can go to Stage 3 (see below).

Stage 3 Review PanelStage 3 - Review Panel

If you are unhappy with the Stage 2 outcome you need to let the complaints team know within 20 days of getting the Stage 2 response and tell them you want to make a Stage 3 complaint. You can let them know over the phone, face to face or in writing. 

If you can’t do this within 20 days you should contact the complaints team to let them know you need more time before you can write your stage 3 complaint. 

At Stage 3 there will be a ‘Review Panel’ of three independent people. These people will hear your complaint and consider how it can be resolved. They will decide if:
•    the complaint investigation process was carried out fairly
•    the outcomes were reasonable
•    any more can be done to help resolve your issue.

You have the right to bring someone to speak on your behalf at the panel meeting.  

Click here to write a Stage 3 complaint.

If you are still unhappy with the final outcome of your complaint, you may contact the Local Government Ombudsman (see below).

Local Government Ombudsman

The Local Government Ombudsman is independent from Children’s Services and they investigate complaints about local authorities.  They don’t have to agree to investigate all complaints but if they think Children’s Services may have done something wrong, and have caused you to be treated unfairly, then they may agree to investigate.  

You have the right to approach the Local Government Ombudsman at any time during your complaint. However, they usually say that your complaint has to have been investigated by your local authority first. 

If your local authority has not responded to your complaint in the timescales they should have, and they do not have a good reason, then you can also contact the Local Government Ombudsman about this. 

You can contact the Local Government Ombudsman on 0300 061 0614. The lines are open Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 5.00pm. You can also text ‘call back’ to 0762 481 1595, or you can use the online complaint form at