Somerset County Council has a key role to play in supporting local health provisions in the management of the COVID-19 pandemic and the roll-out of the mass vaccination programme. As a result, it has been necessary to redeploy some staff from their usual roles into roles which are essential to those efforts. This necessary focus will have an impact on some of our ‘business as usual’ functions and will mean, that in some cases, we will not be able to answer customer complaints within our usual timescales. We understand that this may cause frustration and appreciate your patience during these unusual times.
Whether we’ve got something right, or could have done something better, we would like to hear what you think of our services.
Before making your complaint
If you are reporting an issue for the first time – for example, telling us about a pothole – please report rather than raising a complaint in the first instance, by using the relevant service page or by speaking to our Contact Centre, as this will give us an opportunity to put things right.
You can use the links below to give us your feedback.
Tell us what you think about Children's Social Care
For feedback about Children’s Social Care, please use the following links.
Are you in care or leaving care?
Why not use your Mind of my Own app to tell us what you think about our services? Complaints and comments received through Mind of my Own will be managed in accordance with the complaints procedure detailed here.
Are you a young person who has a problem you’d like resolved?
Would you like some help to raise an issue with Somerset County Council about any aspect of the care you have received from us? – If so, you can contact Route 1 advocacy for advice and support about how they can help you.
We do not manage school complaints. Schools are managed by the headteacher and governors, and any questions, problems or complaints must be raised with the school in the first instance. If this does not resolve the issue you should follow the school’s complaints procedure – which you will be able to find on the school’s website, or you can contact the school directly.
With complaints it is far easier to find out what happened and put things right if you tell us straight away. As time passes it becomes more difficult to investigate events fairly and fully – people’s memories fade, staff who were involved leave the Council, or records may no longer be available. For these reasons, we will normally only accept complaints made within twelve months of the incident or circumstances that led to the complaint.
If your complaint is older that twelve months, please contact us so that we can tell you about other ways that might still be available to solve your problem.
What the Council considers to be a complaint
A complaint can be many things, and some possible situations are listed below. For example, you could be dissatisfied about
- The standard of service you have received from us
- Our response to a request for service
- Our actions
- The behaviour of a member of staff
- Harassment, bias or unfair discrimination, for example, this could include anti-Semitism as defined under the internationally recognised definition. Please see – antisemitism.uk/definition/ – we promise to investigate and seek to put right any unfairness or unfair discrimination
We do not mean
- An initial request for a service, such as reporting a faulty street light or a pothole. We have to have had the chance to provide the service or put something right, which we can only do if we have received a request or been told about a problem
- Where a separate appeals procedure exists or a legal remedy is open to you, for example planning applications, or schools admissions policy
- When you are unhappy about policies set by Somerset County Councillors, for example a budget decision which changes the services available or how they are delivered
- Insurance claims relating to alleged damage or injury – these will be dealt with by the Council’s insurance section
- If your complaint is about policies set by other organisations
- When your complaint is about alleged serious misconduct by an employee of the Council. This will be dealt with through our internal HR procedures, as it would not be appropriate to deal with the issue through the complaints procedure – we will not provide details or the outcome of those internal procedures, but we will let you know once internal processes are complete
How we will deal with your complaint
When we receive your complaint, it will be sent to the service team you are complaining about for them to investigate and respond to you. They understand the issues involved and are best placed to put things right as quickly as possible. We aim to reply to your complaint with a full response within 20 working days. If, for any reason, it is likely to take longer we will let you know.
If, however, you feel there are reasons why you cannot resolve your complaint direct with the service team, please contact us and we will discuss this with you and agree how to proceed.
You may feel you need independent support or help to make your complaint. There is a range of advocacy support available in Somerset, and we will be able to signpost you to organisations that may be able to help you.
What happens if you are not happy with the response from the service team?
You can contact us if you wish to take the matter further. We will clarify what you feel has not been addressed and the elements of the response you disagree with. In some cases, mediation or dispute resolution are the most effective ways to resolve complaints. In other cases it may be appropriate for the Customer Experience Team to undertake a review, which will look at the issues you originally raised, the response you have received and consider the matters that you feel have not been adequately addressed. Whichever route is agreed, we aim to provide a full response within 20 working days. We will keep you updated on progress and will let you know if for any reason it is likely to take longer.
If you are still unhappy with our decision, you can contact the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman at any time to ask if they would conduct an independent investigation. They will not normally investigate your complaint until the Council has had the opportunity to fully investigate it.
You can contact them on their website and fill in an online complaint form, or you can phone them on 0300 061 0614 – Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm.
Compliments and comments
It is also important for us to know about things that are going well or how the service can be improved, and to be able to give staff positive feedback.
When we receive your compliment, we will write to thank you and will pass your thanks on to all the people concerned.
Your comments will be passed to the service, and we will use these to help us improve.
Petitions and e-petitions
For more information about petitions, and what you need to do if you want to create and submit a petition, please see our Petitions page.