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Complaints Standards Authority Update – May 2014

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Local government

The local authority model complaints handling procedure (CHP) requires councils to report annually on their complaints handling performance.  The requirements for this are set out in ‘SPSO performance indicators for the Local Authority Model Complaints Handling Procedure’ which was developed in partnership with the local authority complaints handling network.

There are a number of ways in which a council may publicise their 2013/14 performance, and it is for each council to decide which is most appropriate for them.  We are not prescriptive about how they do this.  Councils may, for example, elect to publish the information on their website, and/or include it in their annual report.  We understand that the timescales required to publish an annual report mean that the information may not be in the public domain until later in the year, but by also publishing the complaints performance information on their website, councils can ensure that the data is publicly available as early as possible.  The information will help to facilitate continuous improvement in complaints handling, and benchmarking of performance.

The next meeting of the local authority complaints handling network takes place on 20 June 2014, in Glasgow.  The theme of the day will be ‘Service improvement/good practice’.  The network will consider examples of complaints that have led to service improvement, and good practice in complaints handling, with a view to sharing this information across the sector.

The network is run by the sector for the sector and is open to all complaints handlers, managers and senior managers across it.  Those who regularly attend the meetings recognise its contribution to adding value. If you are interested in becoming involved, please contact the CSA team directly at


The model CHP for registered social landlords (RSLs) also requires them to report on their performance in handling complaints.  The requirements are set out in ‘SPSO complaints self-assessment indicators for the housing sector’, developed in partnership with HouseMark, the Scottish Housing Best Value Network and the Chartered Institute of Housing.  The indicators complement and build on the Scottish Social Housing Charter’s annual return on the charter indicators and will provide important information when RSLs report to their tenants, as complaints outcomes can provide clear evidence of listening and responding to tenants’ needs.

As with the local government sector, there are a number of ways in which an RSL may choose to publicise their annual performance.  These include publishing the information on their website to ensure that the data is publicly available at the earliest opportunity, and including the information in their annual report. Again, this will help to facilitate continuous improvement in complaints handling and benchmarking between RSLs.

The next meeting of the housing network is planned for June.  As with the local authority complaints handling network, the housing network is run by the sector for the sector and we would encourage those who may be interested in attending to contact the CSA team directly at

Further education

We continue to work closely with Scotland’s Colleges Quality Development Network and sector representatives.  The next meeting for the FE complaints handling advisory group is also planned for June, where we will seek to agree detailed terms of reference for the group, which will then be presented to the Quality Development Network Steering Group. The advisory group will also consider the priority areas for the sector and the key deliverables they can work towards over the next year. Again, the FE complaints handling advisory group is run by the sector for the sector, and we encourage representatives who are keen to join or to learn more about the group to contact the CSA team directly at

Model CHP for the Scottish Government, Scottish Parliament and associated public authorities in Scotland

All organisations in this sector should now have implemented, and be fully compliant with, the model CHP for the Scottish Government and associated public authorities sector.  Our engagement with organisations continues to be positive as we provide advice and respond to operational queries arising during the initial phases of operating the model CHP.

We have taken assurance of compliance with the model CHP from the self-assessment and compliance returns from organisations. We will monitor compliance both through the complaints that we are asked to consider and through our CSA activities.  Where appropriate and where required we will liaise with organisations directly to support them in addressing any areas of non-compliance.

We continue to be available to all organisations in this sector for advice, and to respond to operational queries.  If and where there is a need for additional support we encourage organisations to contact the CSA directly at


The Scottish Health Council’s report ‘Listening and Learning – How Feedback, Comments, Concerns and Complaints Can Improve NHS Services in Scotland’ recommended that the CSA should lead on the development of a more succinctly modelled, standardised and person-centred complaints process for NHS Scotland.  We are considering the report and the way in which this and other SPSO-related recommendations can best be taken forward.  We will liaise directly with NHS stakeholders as we look to develop the next steps in relation to this work.

Download the CSA May 2014 Update as a PDF document.

Updated: March 8, 2017