UK Central Government Complaint Standards

Why we need the Complaint Standards

Good complaint handling provides a direct and positive connection between those who provide services and their service users. Complaints offer a valuable source of learning to help improve services for everyone.

We have heard from people who handle complaints, service users, and people who support them. They have told us there would be significant benefits from a consistent approach to the way complaints are handled across all public services we investigate. A single vision for complaint handling clarifies what should happen when someone makes a complaint. This means everyone involved has a consistent and positive experience.

It also helps organisations show they take complaints seriously and take action to address them.

A single vision for complaint handling provides:

  • reassurance for colleagues who are the subject of a complaint, making sure they feel supported and involved during the process

  • the right environment for organisations and their staff to promote a positive learning culture,

  • where complaints are welcomed and seen as a valuable source of feedback

  • a solid foundation for training and skills development, and builds confidence in this crucial work.


The UKCG Complaint Standards are designed to support the work many government organisations have already put in place to strengthen their complaints processes.

The Complaint Standards will promote a fair and learning culture, with more accountability and openness. This will lead to better communication between central government organisations and service users.

The Standards will guide organisations of all sizes so they can put in place the right structures, reports and systems to capture and examine learning. This will help them gain true insight into their service users’ experience.

By adopting the Standards, organisations will be able to resolve more complaints at the earliest opportunity and use learning to improve services for future users.

The Complaint Standards, along with other support such as professional skills training and further guidance, will lead to a better, more consistent approach to complaint handling for all organisations that deliver central government services.