How do I make a complaint about New Forest Citizens Advice Services?
Stage one: Complain to New Forest Citizens Advice
Write to the Chief Executive of New Forest Citizens Advice if you wish to complain about any service from our offices. You will receive an acknowledgement to your complaint within five working days. An investigation into the circumstances surrounding your complaint will then be undertaken. The records of your visit will be examined to check that proper procedures were followed and the best advice given. The target time for responding in full to a complaint is 20 working days, though, if the issue is complicated, any delay will be explained.
If the complaint is upheld, you will receive a full apology and, where appropriate, be given details of any action that New Forest Citizens Advice was able to take to retrieve the situation or at least put things right for the future. The aim is always to achieve resolution at the earliest stage possible.
If your complaint is about the Chief Executive then you should write to the Chair of the Trustee Board.
Stage two: Chair of the Trustee Board
The letter you receive from the Chief Executive will also inform you of your right to ask for a review of the investigation should you not be satisfied with the outcome of stage one. Details of how to do this will be provided.
While all local Citizens Advice offcies like New Forest Citizens Advice are members of the national Citizens Advice all are separate charities run by and accountable to its own Chief Executive and board of trustees. This is why complaints are first handled locally and why the next stage is the responsibility of the person with the ultimate authority at the local Citizens Advice, the Chair of the Trustee Board. (Trustees are the people who run a charity; they all give their time voluntarily.)
The process followed by the local Citizens Advice Chair in reviewing the complaint is very similar to stage one in that the same target times for responses apply and there is the same obligation for an apology, where owed, and for putting things right, if possible.
The Chair will check that the investigation so far has been carried out fully and properly. She or he will check that the fundamental point of the complaint has been addressed and look at any outstanding issues raised by the complainant.
Stage three: Review Under the Direction of the Chief Executive of Citizens Advice
If you still feel that all the issues have not been properly tackled, you can request a further review to be conducted under the direction of Citizens Advice Chief Executive.
You can submit your complaint via:
Now that the complaint is being examined by Citizens Advice central office rather than New Forest Citizens Advice, the Chief Executive will not concentrate so much on the detail of the case but ensure that the process has been carried out properly and will check that the fundamental issues have been investigated fully.
Within five working days you will receive a letter acknowledging your complaint, and the review will be sent to you within 20 working days of the receipt of your file from New Forest Citizens Advice.
Once again, the review will produce a full response, which will contain sufficient information to show that the complaint has been fully investigated, and an apology where appropriate. Details will be given of your right for a further review.
Stage four: Review by an Independent Adjudicator
The complaint, first dealt with locally and then by central office, can then go to a person who is entirely independent of the Citizens Advice service.
This person is called the Independent Adjudicator. She or he conducts a review of the investigation to check:
- that the investigation has been conducted in line with the stated procedure
- that the investigation has been handled fairly.
The Adjudicator will not comment on the substance of your complaint.
Should the Adjudicator find that the stated procedure was not followed or that the matter has not been handled fairly, the Adjudicator will specify why and may give directions for a re-investigation.
The decision of the Independent Adjudicator is final.