We look into complaints where someone believes there has been injustice or hardship because an organisation has not acted properly or fairly or has given a poor service and not put things right. We do this independently and impartially.
Our powers are set out in law and our service is free for everyone but by law, complaints about UK Government departments and other UK public organisations must be referred to us by an MP. This is known as the 'MP filter'. Complaints about the NHS in England can come to us directly or through an MP.
There are three key checks which will help you give your constituents initial guidance:
Has your constituent completed the complaints process of the organisation in question?
People can ask us to look into their complaint if they are unhappy with the organisation's final response. Occasionally we get involved before that stage if an organisation is clearly not making progress with the complaint within a reasonable timescale.
Is the case being brought to us in time?
Generally we only consider cases which someone has brought to you within a year of their first becoming aware that they wanted to complain. There are some exceptions to this, such as a delay following a bereavement.
Is the case in our jurisdiction?
We can only consider cases where we have been given the ability to do so by Parliament. This includes cases about UK Government departments and other UK public organisations and the NHS in England. We can only look at cases about UK Government departments if an MP refers them to us. People can complain to us directly about the NHS in England.
If you are not sure whether or not we can look into a complaint, please use our complaint checker tool 'Can we look into your complaint?'. It only takes a few minutes.