We want to deliver all our services to a high standard. We welcome complaints to help us do this.
What you tell us helps us check how we are doing and what we can improve. We also value your comments and compliments. What you tell us, good or bad, helps us learn lessons.
What you can complain about
This page is about our General Complaints process.
Complaints about the services shown below have their own process. The General Complaints process is not used for them:
- Children’s services
- Adult social care
- Blue Badge assessments
- School admissions, school exclusions, school transport, concerns about schools
- Housing benefit and council tax
- Councillor conduct and standards
- Parking and traffic offences
- Corona Business Restrictions
- South Essex Homes
Only use the General Complaints process if your complaint is not in the list above.
Don’t worry if you are not sure which process to use. If needed, we will pass on your complaint to the right place.
The General Complaints process
How to complain
When you complain, we will need you to tell us:
- what your complaint is about
- how it has affected you
- why you are not happy with any response you have received before
We will let you know that we have received your complaint and when you can expect an answer.
We will investigate your complaint. To help us we may need to ask you for more information.
We will tell you our decision. If something has gone wrong, we will tell you what we will do to put things right.
The General Complaints process has three stages:
At stage 1 of the process your complaint will be investigated by a manager of the service. They will aim to respond to you within 15 working days (3 weeks) of the complaint being received.
If you are not happy with the response you receive at stage 1, you can ask for your complaint to be looked at again. At stage 2 of the process your complaint will be investigated by a senior manager or director of the service. They will aim to respond to you within 20 working days (4 weeks) of the complaint being received.
If you are not happy with the response you receive at stage 2, you can ask for your complaint to be looked at for a final time. At stage 3 of the process your complaint will be reviewed by an officer who has not previously been directly involved.
You will need to tell us why you think the answer you have received before is wrong and provide any more evidence you want us to look at.
The officer will report to a member of the Corporate Management Team (Executive Director, Deputy or Chief Executive) and the Leader of the Council, who will respond to your complaint.
They will aim to respond to you within 25 working days (5 weeks) of the complaint being received.
Some complaints may take longer than the time set for reply at that stage. If this happens, we will keep you informed about what is going on.
Contacting the Local Government Ombudsman
If you have been through all stages of our complaints procedure and are still unhappy, you can ask the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman to review your complaint.
The Ombudsman investigates complaints in a fair and independent way - it does not take sides.
It is a free service.
The Ombudsman expects you to have given us chance to deal with your complaint before you contact them. If you have not heard from us within a reasonable time, it may decide to look into your complaint anyway. This is usually up to 12 weeks.
About the Ombudsman
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman looks at individual complaints about councils and some other organisations providing local public services It also investigates complaints about all adult social care providers (including care homes and home care agencies) for people who self-fund their care.