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Complaints Standards Authority Update: January 2015

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Download the Complaints Standards Authority Update January 2015 (PDF, 40KB)

Local government

We have now received annual complaint reports from most councils for 2013/14. We are considering the information to better understand the complaints handling performance and analysis of learning across the sector.  Early indications suggest that the adoption of the model complaints handling procedure (CHP) has added value for both organisations and customers, with a high reported average of complaints across the sector being closed at stage one of the CHP. We also undertook a high level analysis of councils’ annual complaints reports. We are pleased that, for the first time ever, we now have some comparable data to allow us to better understand performance across the sector and have established a baseline against which to measure future performance.

The local authority complaints handlers network met in January to consider benchmarking of complaints information contained in council’s annual reports based on initial analysis. The network also considered the use of IT systems for complaint recording and reporting, with a demonstration being provided by Fife and North Ayrshire Councils. The ‘Complaints Surgery’, which is a feature of all network meetings, discussed issues around the handling of complaints about council policy and the application of a council’s unacceptable actions policy.

NHS Complaints Handling
Following the Scottish Health Council’s recommendation that the CSA develops a standardised model complaints handling procedure for the Health sector we have been liaising with Scottish Government officials to agree the way forward for this work. Discussions are ongoing regarding methodology, timescales and stakeholder engagement, however we expect to progress this work during the first half of 2015/16 and expect further information to be available to stakeholders soon.

We attended the Scottish Housing Best Value Network (SHBVN)’s ‘Partners Event’ on January 14. The SHBVN is a national social landlord benchmarking forum in Scotland that has over two thirds of all social landlords as members. They provided very helpful presentations about the performance trends of social landlords across Scotland, including in relation to complaints, using their benchmarking data and the data provided by RSLs and councils in their annual reports to the Scottish Housing Regulator.

We have arranged to meet with key stakeholders from the sector in early February to plan future meetings of the housing complaints handlers network. Our experience confirms that complaints handlers network groups add great value in terms of sharing best practice and comparing performance in complaints handling.

Further education
We have received a number of annual complaints reports from colleges. We ask colleges that have yet to submit their annual complaints report to now do so. The next meeting of the complaints handling advisory group will be held in late January to finalise the arrangements to hold a benchmarking workshop for the sector in the near future.

At that time, we hope to provide feedback on what the college annual complaint reports are telling us about complaints handling performance in the sector. Arrangements will be communicated through the complaints handling advisory group to the Quality Steering group and then to individual colleges.

Higher education – performance reporting
The higher education complaints practitioners group met in January at Glasgow Caledonian University. As with other sectors, we remind all universities of the requirement to report on their complaints handling performance in line with SPSO requirements, as documented in the Scottish higher education model complaints handling procedure Guide to Implementation (PDF, 99kb). We ask all higher education institutions to provide us with their report, or a link to their published annual complaints report online, by writing to us at

SPSO Training Events

Our next open training course for staff handling second-stage complaints (Investigation Skills) is on Thursday 26 February 2015 in central Edinburgh. This is open to staff from all sectors under the SPSO’s jurisdiction.

For more information and to book spaces please contact

And did you know that we can run courses specifically for your organisation, at a location convenient to you? If this is of interest, please contact us at to discuss this.

Save the date: SPSO Conference, Thursday 8 October 2015
With a range of keynote speakers, interactive workshops and cross-sector networking opportunities, our one-day conference will focus on helping you implement improvements to your complaints handling, quality assure your complaints responses, and maximise learning from complaints using root cause analysis.

Location: COSLA conference centre, Edinburgh (near Haymarket train station)

Price: delegate rate £150pp, including refreshments and conference materials

Spaces will be limited, but to register your early interest or for more information, please contact

Updated: March 8, 2017