Making a complaint about services

4 mins read

This advice applies across the UK.

Parents and carers can make a complaint if their local authority/trust has refused to assess their child or if there are problems with the services they are receiving.

In this article

What can I make a complaint about?

The complaints process covers issues including:

Making a complaint


Each local authority has a ‘designated officer’, called the complaints manager, who receives all complaints. They don’t handle all stages of the complaint but are responsible for administering the scheme to make sure complaints are dealt with swiftly and effectively.

You should bring your concerns to the attention of the person providing the service. The local authority should make a first attempt to resolve matters within 10 working days, which can be extended by another 10 days (if, for example, an advocate needs to be appointed).

If the matter isn’t resolved, the local authority will arrange an investigation and produce a report and a decision within 25 days. The investigation will be undertaken by a nominated complaints officer.

If you are still unhappy, you can ask for the matter to go to a Review Panel within 20 working days of the investigation decision. Three independent people will consider the complaint and make recommendations.

If the matter is still not resolved, you can take the complaint to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman. For details, visit or call 0300 061 0614.


You can make a complaint to anyone at your local authority. They will inform the designated Complaints Officer.

There are two stages to the complaints procedure. At the first, the local authority will try to resolve the complaint with you within 10 working days. At the second stage, an Independent Investigator will investigate the complaint. They will respond within 25 days with a report and conclusions.

If you are still unhappy, you can take your complaint to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.

Local authorities have a legal obligation under the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 to provide an independent professional ‘voice’ or advocate for every looked after child and young person, care leaver and child in need of care and support, who wants to take part or comment on decisions about their lives. An independent professional advocate should also be provided if a child or young person wants to make a complaint.

For specific advocacy support in Wales, try the organisations below.

If your child has a social worker:

If your child doesn’t have a social worker:

Scotland and Northern Ireland

Each local authority in Scotland has its own complaints procedure.

Similarly, there are five health and social care trusts in Northern Ireland providing services to the public locally and on a regional basis. Each of these has its own complaints procedure.

Challenging a refusal to assess

If you live in England, you can use our template letter to challenge a council’s refusal to assess your child’s need for care and support.