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Making a complaint

Both councils and individual councillors are accountable to their local electorates for the work they do. If you are not happy with the standard of service you have received, you can make a complaint.

Making a complaint about a council

Councils are subject to audit and scrutiny by various external bodies to ensure that the services they provide are of a high quality. However, if you feel that a council has not provided a good standard of service, you can make a complaint.

There are three stages to go through:

  1. The first stage is to complain direct to the Service involved within the council (e.g. education, social work) so that there is an opportunity for the issue to be put right.
  2. If you are unhappy with the Service's response to your complaint, you can then make an official complaint to the council. Each council has a formal complaints procedure which can be accessed through their website.
  3. If you have been through the formal complaints procedure and are still not happy with the council's response, you can ask the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) to consider your complaint.

SPSO was set up by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman Act 2002. SPSO is independent of government and deals with complaints about councils and a range of other public bodies in Scotland. It looks into complaints where a member of the public claims to have suffered injustice or hardship as a result of maladministration or service failure.

Making a complaint about a councillor

Councillors in Scotland are bound by a Code of Conduct. If you feel that a councillor has not followed the Councillors’ Code of Conduct, you can refer your complaint to the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland. Where appropriate, the Commissioner will report on the outcome of these investigations to the Standards Commission for Scotland. The Standards Commission for Scotland is an independent body responsible for enforcing compliance with Codes of Conduct and providing guidance on their interpretation. The Commission has published Guidance on the Councillors' Code of Conduct which is intended to assist councillors to interpret the Code.