Doing business with us Commissioned services - complaints handling

Effective complaints handling - a checklist for service providers

A complaint is “an expression of dissatisfaction about a council service (whether that service is provided directly by the council or by a contractor or partner) that requires a response” - Local Government Ombudsman definition.

The Local Government Ombudsman is clear that:

“...councils keep responsibility for third party actions, including complaint handling, no matter what the arrangements are with that party” and “we will treat any complaint about a service provided by a third party on behalf of the council as being against that council.”

Local authorities need to ensure they have:

  • An up to date understanding of the complaints procedures used by commissioned services
  • Clarity concerning when a complaint needs to be handled by the commissioner, for example complaints about funding levels or policy
  • Robust complaints data collection and reporting
  • Clear arrangements for the use of learning from complaints

We've developed a complaints handling guidance document in order to support our commissioned services. The guidance sets out our expectations for organisations delivering services on our behalf.

Contracts will set out how commissioned providers should manage and report complaints, and providers should discuss individual arrangements with their commissioner. However, as a general rule we expect commissioned providers to: 

For more advice and information about how to handle and report complaints, please contact our Commissioning Support Unit on