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New arrangements for handling social services complaints came into force on 1 August 2014.

A new procedure has been introduced to improve the experience for people making complaints. The process has been simplified and the guidance for local authorities has been made easier to understand.  

It also aligns social services with other public services, in particular the NHS.  

The procedures are based on two principles:

  •  Everyone who makes a complaint about social services in Wales has a right to be listened to. Their views, wishes and feelings must be heard; and their concerns should be resolved quickly and effectively.  
  • Complaints can highlight where services need changing.  It is important that local authorities learn from complaints to identify where services should be changed and improved.

There are two stages in the new process:

Stage 1 – local resolution

The local authority must always offer to discuss a complaint or representation with the complainant to try and resolve matters.  This discussion must take place within 10 working days.  This should allow for the quick and successful resolution of most complaints.

Stage 2 – formal investigation

The complainant has a right to ask the local authority for formal investigation of their complaint. At this stage, the complaint will be investigated by an Independent Investigator.  This is someone who is not employed by the local authority which are the subject of the complaint.  

A report with findings, conclusions and recommendations must be produced. The authority must respond to the complainant within 25 working days of the request to move to this stage.

Public Services Ombudsman for Wales

If they remain dissatisfied, the complainants may take their complaint to the  Public Services Ombudsman for Wales (external link)