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Complaints Standards Authority Update October 2014

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Local government

The next meeting of the local authority complaints handlers network will consider the theme of learning from complaints. The network will again look at benchmarking complaints performance as it considers the findings of the benchmarking pilot referred to in our last update. It will discuss the requirements of the SPSO performance indicators for the local authority model complaints handling procedure (PDF, 126KB)  and how the information from the indicators can be used in context to baseline a council’s complaints handling performance. The network’s complaints surgery will also consider issues around dealing with complaints about political decisions, complaints for arm’s length external organisations and school related complaints. We would remind local authorities that have not already done so to either send us (or send us a link to) their complaints handling performance, in line with the SPSO performance indicators referred to above.

We continue to monitor local authority annual performance complaints handling reports and, as previously reported, have seen variations on the way in which information is being presented.We will continue to discuss with the sector how they can ensure that they report consistent and comparable information, including demonstrating the learning from complaints, and ensuring this is shared both within and across local authorities.


Since our last update we have met with the Scottish Housing Regulator to discuss the publication of Charter performance data, and the requirements of registered social landlords (RSLs) to publish full complaints data in line with the complaints handling procedure (CHP) and self-assessment indicators. The information RSLs publish will allow them to compare their complaints handling performance across the sector. We are keen to work with the sector on benchmarking to better understand existing approaches and how these may be developed further to meet the reporting requirements of the model CHP.

Higher education

Earlier in October we attended a higher education complaints practitioners meeting at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh. This gave us the opportunity to update sector representatives on our work and to discuss and clarify a range of issues on operation of the model CHP and good complaints handling more widely. We were
encouraged by the progress this group has made in sharing good practice on complaints handling, and reaffirmed our view that the sector would find benefit in the group benchmarking performance and seeking to share learning from complaints across the sector. We will attend further meetings of the group to further update
members on the work of SPSO, and look forward to working more closely with the group to ensure best practice across the sector. As with other sectors, we remind all universities of the requirement to report on their complaints handling performance annually in line with SPSO requirements, as documented in the CHP implementation guide (PDF, 101KB).

Further education

Working closely with the sector’s complaints handling advisory group, we are developing further guidance on the performance indicators that will form the basis of benchmarking complaints performance information.  The indicators against which colleges are required to publish information for the academic year just past are outlined in the implementation guide accompanying the model CHP and published in 2013 [The Further Education Model Complaints Handling Procedure (Model CHP) Guide to Implementation (PDF, 101KB)]. This work was shared with the Quality Steering Group, (which oversees the work of the complaints advisory group), and will be used to support and inform a workshop event to help colleges benchmark complaints performance across the sector.We are currently in discussion with the complaints advisory group members to plan the workshop and will provide a further update on progress as soon as possible.


We continue to discuss with the Scottish Government and other key stakeholders the recommendations arising from the Scottish Health Council (SHC)’s review of NHS feedback and complaints. In line with the recommendations, we are looking at the potential to develop an NHS model CHP for the sector.We are keen to align NHS complaints handling with the approach adopted in other sectors, including encouraging early resolution and frontline ownership as recommended in the SHC report.We believe that an NHS model CHP will achieve significant benefits, by providing clarity and consistency on how NHS complaints should be handled.

The Scottish Prison Service

We have in the past worked closely with the Scottish Prison Service to provide advice and guidance in respect of handling prisoners complaints.We will attend a workshop with their managers and complaints handlers in October, to consider information on their complaints handling performance, areas of best practice and improvements to complaints handling and learning from complaints to deliver operational improvements.

The CSA can also be contacted directly at

Updated: March 8, 2017