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Our Service Charter

​Our Service Charter explains what you can expect from us when you ask us to look into a complaint. This is to give you confidence in our service. It also explains what we need from you in return.

Introduction to the Charter

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How we look into your complaint

From what happens when you first contact us, to how we carry out our investigations, find out more about our three-step process.

Our commitments

Giving you the information you need

We will:

  1. explain our role and what we can and cannot do
  2. explain how we handle complaints and what information we need from you
  3. direct you to someone who can help with your complaint if we are unable to, where possible
  4. keep you regularly updated on our progress with your complaint.

Following an open and fair process

We will:

  1. listen to you to make sure we understand your complaint
  2. explain the specific concerns we will be looking into
  3. explain how we will do our work
  4. gather all the information we need, including from you and the organisation you have complained about, before we make our decision
  5. share facts with you, and discuss with you what we are seeing
  6. evaluate the information we've gathered and make an impartial decision on your complaint
  7. explain our decision and recommendations, and how we reached them.

Giving you a good service

We will:

  1. treat you with courtesy and respect
  2. give you a final decision on your complaint as soon as we can
  3. make sure our service is easily accessible to you and give you support and help if you need it
  4. look after the information you give us.

Living up to our commitments

We will:

  1. listen to your feedback and use it to improve our service
  2. apologise if we make mistakes, and put things right
  3. publish information regularly on our website about our performance, in line with the commitments in this Charter, and report to Parliament on this.

Download the Service Charter

You can download a PDF copy of the Charter or a PDF copy in Easy Read format. If you would like it in a different format such as Daisy or large print, please email publications.

Helping to make public services better

We will:

  • help Parliament to scrutinise the organisations we investigate by sharing what we have learned from the complaints we see
  • help the organisations we investigate, regulators and others to improve public services by sharing this learning with them
  • promote and share good practice whenever we see it.

Find out more about how our casework makes a difference.

What we expect from you when you complain to us

We need you to:

  • complain to the organisation you are unhappy with first, so it has a chance to put things right
  • treat our staff with courtesy and respect
  • give us all the information we ask for in a reasonable amount of time
  • tell us if you have any particular needs that we should be aware of
  • understand that we may not always be able to give you the outcome you are looking for
  • appreciate that we carry out our investigations in a way that is fair to everyone involved in the complaint and have to decide what questions and evidence are relevant to the complaint.

What we expect from organisations complained about

We need organisations to:

  • give people a clear final answer to their complaint
  • make people aware of our service when giving them a final answer
  • treat people who make a complaint, and our staff, with courtesy and respect
  • work with us to address the complaints people bring to us as quickly and effectively as possible
  • give us all the information we ask for in a reasonable amount of time
  • show people who have made a complaint, and us, how they have acted on our recommendations.

Developing our Service Charter 

We talked to people who have used our service and to the organisations we investigate and work with, to find out what matters to them. This helped us develop our Service Charter. 

Find out more about how we developed our Service Charter.