Making a complaint about a service we have provided

The Charity Commission for England and Wales is the independent regulator and registrar of charities in England and Wales. Our aim is to provide the best possible regulation of charities in order to increase charities’ efficiency and effectiveness and public confidence and trust in them.

We also make a commitment to give you the best service we can. If you want to complain we will ensure that your complaint is treated seriously, is handled without bias or discrimination and that your confidentiality is respected.

If you are dissatisfied with the way in which we have dealt with you, you can contact us by letter, email, telephone or fax setting out exactly what you think has gone wrong and what you think we should do to put it right.

Our complaint procedure is available both to customers who have used our services or to those who think they have not received a service we said we would provide.  Complaints can be made by advocates or representatives on behalf of customers, but we ask for written confirmation that they have agreed to you acting on their behalf.

In the first instance, we ask you to raise your complaint with us within 3 months of the event or outcome that you are complaining about.

This service does not cover complaints about charities.  If you have a complaint about a charity you should read our guidance on how and when to report an issue to us

What will we do with your complaint?

Local Resolution:

We will always try to successfully resolve your complaint within the area of the Commission you were dealing with. In the first instance, someone who has not handled your original case will look fairly and impartially at your concerns. Wherever possible, they will be at a more senior level than the original caseworker. They will look into your complaint and will aim to respond to you within 20 working days, setting out the conclusions from their review and clearly explaining reasons for the outcome.

Customer Service:

If you remain dissatisfied after this, you should contact Charity Commission Direct, marking your correspondence for the attention of the Customer Service Team, within 3 months of getting your final response from the Local Resolution stage of the process. 

The Customer Service Team is independent of all other areas of the Commission and will offer you a fair and impartial review of your case. There are two separate ways in which your complaint can be handled:

  • Standard of Service complaint: If you have a complaint about the standard of service you have received, Customer Service will conduct a formal review to assess whether the Commission’s service has fallen below an acceptable standard. We will normally assess your complaint and let you know the outcome within 30 working days.
  • Outcome Review Panel: If your complaint is about the outcome of your case (ie a case-working judgement or decision made without using our legal powers1) we will offer you a formal Outcome Review. This process consists of a review by a Panel of experienced Commission staff assessing whether the outcome of your case was reasonable in the circumstances and one which the Commission was entitled to deliver. Panel members will be specially selected to ensure that they have the relevant technical expertise to assess the cases they are given. They will not have had previous involvement in any of the cases under review. 
  • Outcome Review Panels are held at the end of every month.  Once your case is prepared it will be considered at the next available Panel. We will inform you of the panel's conclusions within twelve working days of it having met.

Following examination of your complaint, or the Outcome Review, we will write telling you clearly the conclusions we have reached and why.

Remedy

We will assess your case individually. There are no standard or automatic remedies, financial or otherwise. We will consider all relevant factors when deciding on an appropriate remedy and will offer what we believe to be a fair and proportionate solution, taking into account any injustice or hardship you have experienced.

If we find that we have made a mistake, or not dealt with you properly, we will do what we can to put things right.  This may involve:

  • Apologising.
  • Correcting any errors so that, where possible, you are restored to the position you would have been in had we not made a mistake.
  • Taking further action in response to your concerns.
  • Telling you what we have learnt from the complaint and what action we will take to ensure that we do not make the same mistake again.
  • Financial recompense if you have experienced a great deal of hardship or injustice.

Next Steps

When we notify you of the outcome of a standard of service complaint examination, or the conclusions of the Commission’s Outcome Review Panel, this will be our final response to your complaint.

There is no right of appeal against the Outcome Review Panel’s conclusions nor any further process through which we can consider your concerns.

Independent Complaint Reviewer

If you remain dissatisfied with the way in which the Commission has dealt with you once we have completed a standard of service examination or Outcome Review, you can ask the Commission’s Independent Complaint Reviewer (ICR) to look into your complaint.

The ICR is independent of the Commission and is able to look impartially at complaints about the Commission’s administration. The ICR cannot reconsider our decisions, case outcomes or the conclusions of the Outcome Review Panel but can assess whether our service to you was of an acceptable standard. If the ICR upholds your complaint she may make recommendations to redress any shortfalls in our service. Recommendations made by the ICR are generally binding on the Commission, and we will usually implement them. The ICR service is free to Commission customers.

If you wish to complain to the ICR you should do it no later than six months after the Commission’s final response to you.

The ICR can be contacted at:

New Premier House
150 Southampton Row
London WC1B 5AL

020 7278 6251
Email

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO)

If at any time you are unhappy with the service you receive from the Commission or the ICR you can ask your MP to refer your case to the PHSO. Please be aware that the Ombudsman generally expects that complainants will first have put their complaint to the Commission and the ICR and may not be able to consider your complaint until these stages have been completed.

Further information is available from:

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
Millbank Tower
Millbank
London SW1P 4QP

0845 015 4033
Email

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