How to raise complaints, what you can (and can't) complain about, timescales and what happens next

Help us to provide you with a better service

All complaints are treated in a confidential manner, subject to Data Protection and Freedom of Information Legislation.

Tell us when something has gone wrong so that we can put it right.

“A complaint is the expression of dissatisfaction with an organisations procedures, charges, employees, agents or quality of service”.

The information you supply will be used for the purpose for which you have provided it, and appropriate measures are in place to protect your personal data.  A full privacy notice, which provides information about your rights under current data protection legislation and details about what will happen to your personal data can be found here:


Argyll and Bute Council is committed to providing high quality services for the people in Argyll and Bute. However, sometimes things can go wrong and when they do, we need to know so we can put them right and learn from them. This leaflet describes our complaints procedure and how to make a complaint. It also tells you about our service standards and what you can expect from us.

We welcome and value complaints because this feedback helps us improve our services and ensures our customers are treated fairly.

The complaints procedure aims to be:

  • User-focused: it puts the complainant at the heart of the process
  • Accessible: it is clearly communicated, easily understood and available to all
  • Simple and timely: it has as few steps as necessary within an agreed and transparent timeframe
  • Thorough, proportionate and consistent: it should provide quality outcomes in all complaints through robust but proportionate investigation and the use of clear quality standards
  • Objective, impartial and fair: it should be objective, evidence-based and driven by the facts and established circumstances, not assumptions, and this should be clearly demonstrated

and should:

  • Seek early resolution: it aims to resolve complaints at the earliest opportunity, to the service user’s satisfaction wherever possible and appropriate
  • Deliver improvement: it is driven by the search for improvement, using analysis of outcomes to support service delivery and drive service delivery improvements

Making a complaint

What is a complaint?

A complaint is ‘an expression of dissatisfaction about the Council’s action or lack of action, or about the standard of service provided by or on behalf of the Council’

How do I complain?

You should make your initial complaint by filling in our online complaints form or by phoning 01546 605516.

You can also make your complaint by e-mail at, in person or in writing to any Council office or by using the complaints form provided in this leaflet.

When complaining, please tell us:

  • your full name and address
  • as much as you can about the complaint
  • what has gone wrong
  • how you want us to resolve the matter

What can I complain about?

Examples of what can be dealt with under the Council’s complaints procedure:

  • Failure to provide a service
  • The standard of service provided
  • The treatment by, attitude or conduct of a member of staff
  • Delays or refusal to give advice or answer questions in response to enquiries or requests
  • The Council’s failure to follow the proper administrative process
  • Dissatisfaction with the way in which a Council policy has been applied
  • Dissatisfaction with Council policies for example, if a customer is unhappy about the changes to refuse collection service

Social work / care services are now the responsibility of the Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership, and more information about making a complaint in relation to these services can be found here /social-work-complaints-procedure


What can’t I complain about?

Examples of what can’t be dealt with under the Council’s complaints procedure:

  • A first time request for a service, for example a request for a street-lighting repair
  • A request for compensation only
  • Where there is a statutory or other formal right of appeal, for example decision on housing or council tax benefit or in regard to formal enforcement action
  • Insurance claims or potential claims concerning injury to people or damage to property
  • Matters which are currently subject to court proceedings or have already been heard in court or at a tribunal
  • Complaints regarding the conduct of a Councillor
  • A complaint which has already been investigated and a final decision given

If other procedures or rights of appeal can help you resolve your concerns, we will give you information and advice to help you.

Who can complain?

Any person or organisation who receives, requests or is affected by the services of the Council can make a complaint, including the representative of someone who is dissatisfied with our service. We will take complaints from a friend, relative or an advocate, if you have given them your consent to complain for you.

You can find out about advocates in your area by contacting the

Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance: Tel: 0131 510 9410 Website:

How long do I have to make a complaint?

Normally, you must make your complaint within six months of;

  • the event you want to complain about, or
  • finding out that you have a reason to complain, but no longer than 12 months after the event itself

In exceptional circumstances, we may be able to accept a complaint after the time limit and if you feel the time limit should not apply to your complaint then please tell us why.

What happens when I have complained?


Our Quarterly Complaint figures can be found in the attachments section at the bottom of this page along with our Annual Complaints Report.  

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