1. Introduction

Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council is committed to providing the best possible services to customers, residents and visitors to the Borough. We pride ourselves on delivering services well and having staff that are committed to doing a good job. We recognise that on occasions either the delivery or quality of our services may fall short or exceed both ours and/or our customers’ expectations and when this happens we want our residents, customers and visitors to let us know.

As a Council we value all customer feedback good or bad and use this information to both improve and develop services to meet the needs of both customers and local communities. This policy outlines the Council’s process for dealing with complaints and other customer feedback such as compliments and comments and explains what we do with the feedback we receive.

2. The Customer Feedback Scheme

Rhondda Cynon Taf recognise the importance of working together with our residents to better understand the needs of our communities.

The Customer Feedback Scheme provides an opportunity for both residents and visitors to Rhondda Cynon Taf to tell the Council what we do well, make suggestions for improvements and if dissatisfied with a service, to make a complaint. All feedback received is reviewed and themes are scrutinised to identify where improvements are needed and good practice is highlighted and shared across services.

The information from customers enables us to evaluate whether we are providing essential services well and where we need to make improvements.

There are various ways that you can give us feedback which are detailed below.

3. Compliments and Comments

Compliments

If you have experienced a good service from the Council, had a good experience at one of our events or want to praise one of our staff for doing a good job you can use the Customer Feedback Scheme to make a compliment.

Compliments are important as it enables us to evaluate how well our services are being delivered and recognise staff who may go over and above what is expected to give residents and visitors a positive experience. We share and promote examples of good practice across service areas and use your feedback to understand what is important to our customers.

Comments

If you have a suggestion as to how the Council could improve or want to comment, good or bad, about any aspect of Council Services you can do so through the Customer Feedback Scheme. All comments are looked at and considered by the relevant service areas.

You can make a comment or compliment in the following ways:

  • Request a copy of our feedback form from the member of staff you are already in contact with.
  • Contact us by telephone: 01443 425005. 
  • Use the feedback form on our website at: www.rctcbc.gov.uk
  • Email us at: feedback@rctcbc.gov.uk
  • Write a letter to us at: Customer Feedback, BSU, Ty Elai, Williamstown, Tonypandy, RCT, CF40 1NY

Whilst we encourage both compliments and comments it is not possible to respond to each one that we receive. Compliments and comments received online will be acknowledged automatically but other communications, given the number that are received, may not generate a response. All compliments and comments made through the methods detailed at the end of this policy are however, logged and considered through our quality assurance and reporting mechanisms.

4. Complaints

We acknowledge that despite our best efforts sometimes things go wrong and when this happens we want to put things right.

As a Council Rhondda Cynon Taf is committed to dealing effectively with any concerns or complaints you may have about our service and aim to put right  mistakes as quickly as we can. If we have got things wrong or failed to deliver a service that you are entitled to then we will apologise and try and put things right. We also aim to learn from our mistakes and use the information we gain to improve our services.

Whilst we are committed to resolving complaints it is not always possible to meet every customer’s expectations. As a Council we have to adapt to changes in society, take account of financial pressures and prioritise. This can mean that services and the way we deliver them also has to adapt to ensure that we are making best use of resources whilst continuing to meet the needs of our customers and the most vulnerable in our communities.

When to use this policy.

When you express your concerns or complain to us, we will usually respond in the way we explain below. However, sometimes you may have a statutory right of appeal, for example against a refusal to grant you planning permission or the decision not to give your child a place in a particular school so, rather than investigate your concern, we will explain to you how you can appeal.

Sometimes, you might be concerned about matters that are not decided by us or services that we do not provide, if this is the case we will let you know and provide advice on which organisation you should direct your concern to.

This policy does not apply to complaints about Social Services. These are dealt with separately under a different policy, guidance and legislation.

Complaints regarding a school are also dealt with under separate procedures and in the first instance you should approach the Head teacher of the school concerned.

Other areas where this policy does not apply can be found in Appendix B at the end of this guidance.

Have you asked us yet?

If you are approaching us for a service or reporting a problem for the first time, (e.g. reporting a faulty street light, missed bin or pot hole) then this policy does not apply. You should in the first instance give us the opportunity to respond to your request and wherever possibly rectify the problem. This type of query is logged as a ‘service request’.

If you have already told us or requested a service and either the problem has not been put right or you are not happy with our response you will be able to make your concern known as detailed below.

5. Making a complaint

You can make your complaint in any of the following ways:

  • Request a copy of our feedback form from the member of staff you are already in contact with. Tell them that you want us to deal with the matter formally.
  • Contact us by telephone to make your complaint on: 01443 425005
  • Use the feedback form on our website at:  www.rctcbc.gov.uk
  • E-mail us at: feedback@rctcbc.gov.uk
  • Write a letter to us at : Customer Feedback, BSU, Ty Elai, Williamstown, Tonypandy, RCT, CF40 1NY

Visit one of our One4all Centres based in Aberdare, Mountain Ash, Porth, Pontypridd or Treorchy.  We aim to have complaint forms available at all of our reception areas, libraries and other Council run facilities. Copies of this policy and the complaint form will be made available in alternative languages, audio, large print and Braille, upon request.  

Comments, compliments and complaint online form

6. Dealing with your complaint

  • We will formally acknowledge your complaint within 5 working days and let you know how we intend to deal with it.
  • We will ask you to tell us how you would like us to communicate with you and establish whether you have any particular requirements – for example, if you have a disability such as hearing or vision loss.
  • We will deal with your complaint in an open and honest way.
  • We will make sure that your dealings with us in the future do not suffer just because you have expressed a concern or made a complaint.

Normally, we will only be able to look at your concerns if you tell us about them within 6 months. This is because it’s better to look into your concerns while the issues are still fresh in everyone’s mind.

We may in exceptional circumstances be able to look at concerns which are brought to our attention later than this. You will however have to give us strong reasons why you have not been able to bring it to our attention earlier and we will need to have sufficient information about the issue to allow us to consider it properly. (In any event, regardless of the circumstances, we will not consider any concerns about matters that took place more than 12 months ago.)

There are two stages to the Council’s complaints procedure:

  • A Stage 1 complaint (also referred to as informal resolution) is the quickest and often the most effective way of dealing with your complaint. Unless a complaint is of a very serious nature we expect all complaints to be dealt with initially at Stage 1. 
  • A Stage 2 complaint enables you to escalate the matter if you remain dissatisfied with the outcome at Stage 1. Stage 2 complaints will be dealt with by a senior officer within the Council and may be independent to the service your complaint relates to.

The Council reserve the right to escalate serious matters straight to Stage 2 should it feel this is necessary based on the nature and seriousness of the issues raised.

Stage 1 (also referred to as Informal resolution).

Wherever possible we believe it’s best to deal with things straight away rather than try to sort them out later. If you have a concern, raise it with the officer or service you are or have been dealing with. If possible they may be able to resolve the issue for you there and then.

If this is not possible and the matter requires further investigation the relevant service area will look at the complaint and provide a response wherever possible within 10 working days. For some more complex complaints this may take longer, however, we aim to provide a response to most complaints within a maximum of 20 working days.

As a minimum standard we expect the response to your complaint to:

  • Offer an apology where appropriate
  • Advise what action is to be taken to put things right
  • Identify any lessons learnt and;
  • Provide information on what to do if you remain dissatisfied.

Stage 2 (also referred to as formal resolution).

Should you remain dissatisfied with the response to your complaint at Stage 1 and we have been unable to provide a resolution to the issues you have raised you can request that your complaint be considered at Stage 2.

Complaints that have followed Council Policy and/or are based on properly made decisions cannot be considered at Stage 2. You may however escalate your complaint to Stage 2 of the process when:

  • The relevant service has had adequate opportunity to address your complaint but has not provided you with a response in accordance with the Stage 1 requirements.
  • You believe that your complaint has not received adequate or proper consideration or is based on incorrect or factually inaccurate information.
  • The response has not addressed all the issues raised as part of your complaint.
  • The investigation has failed to take account of relevant legislation and your individual rights under such legislation, for example, The Disability Discrimination Act.

You are required to provide a detailed explanation of why you think your complaint was not properly addressed at Stage 1, together with your desired outcome.

Occasionally specific complaint issues may warrant clarification, for example when written complaints are long, unspecific, or when complex complaints taken by telephone have been noted and require clarification.  In such circumstances the Investigating officer will contact you with a complaint summary as they see it, to agree/clarify issues prior to investigation.

Should you fail to respond and agree/clarify issues within 28 days, the complaint will be closed and a letter to this effect will be sent to you.        

7. Dealing With Your Stage 2 Complaint

We will formally acknowledge your complaint within 5 working days and will usually reply to you in the same way you communicated with us. For example, if you complained by email in Welsh, we would respond by email in Welsh, unless you inform us that you have different requirements. 

Once received your complaint will be managed by a Complaints Co-ordinator for the service area that your complaint relates to. They will appoint a senior officer from the service or in some instances an officer from another service to undertake an investigation.

The Investigating Officer will review the information provided at Stage 1 and may contact you to clarify matters and to discuss your desired outcome. They may also discuss the situation with Council staff and for some complaints may need to look at information we hold on you.

If you are not happy for the Investigating Officer to view information we hold on you then you should let us know when you make your complaint. It is possible that refusal to allow access to information we hold may mean that we cannot continue to investigate some or all of the issues you have raised.

Our commitment when dealing with complaints is to find a resolution wherever possible and If the officer looking at your complaint can identify a simple solution to the issue(s) raised they may contact you with their proposed resolution and try to reach an agreement rather than proceeding with an investigation.

We aim to deal with complaints as quickly as possible and deal with the vast majority at Stage 2 within 20 working days. With more complex complaints and/or complaints that involve more than one service area it may take longer to carry out a full and thorough investigation. If this is the case we will contact you to agree a revised timescale which should be no longer than 3 months following the date of your original complaint.

On completion of your complaint we will provide you with a formal written response detailing our findings and explaining how we reached our conclusions. We will accept our mistakes where we have made them and will always apologise where it is appropriate to do so. If as part of the investigation of your complaint we identify failings we will explain how we plan to put things right and/or make improvements to prevent a similar occurrence in the future.

8. Putting Things Right 

If we did not provide a service you should have received, we will aim to provide it if that is possible.  If we did not do something well, we will aim to put it right.  

If you have lost out as a result of a mistake on our part, we will try to put you back in the position you would have been in, had we got the matter right.

If you had to pay for a service yourself, which you should have received from us,or if you were entitled to funding you did not receive, we will usually aim to make good what you have lost.

9. When There Is More Than One Body Involved

If your complaint covers more than one body e.g. Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council and South Wales Police,we will usually work with them to decide who should take a lead in dealing with the matter. You will then be notified of the officer responsible for communicating with you while your complaint is being considered.  

If the complaint is about a body working on our behalf, for example, a specialist company contracted by the Authority you may wish to raise the matter with them first however, should you wish to raise the matter with us on a formal basis, we will look into the complaint and respond to you.

10. Welsh Language Complaints

Welsh Language, Standards & Compliance

The Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011 established a legal framework to impose duties on certain organisations to comply with standards in relation to the Welsh language by way of sub-legislation (Welsh Language Regulation Standards). The standards issued to Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council are listed in ‘Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council Compliance Notice – Section 44 Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011’.

All our standards, including Service Delivery, Policy Making & Operational are available to view, online at www.rctcbc.gov.uk/WelshServices or at any of our reception centres.

Complaints or Concerns regarding the Welsh Language will follow the timeframes and steps highlighted in the Council’s policy. The Council, as this policy has already referred to, will make sure that the investigating officers consult with any relevant legislation before determining whether the authority or service area has acted in accordance with legislative requirements or in line with approved policies and procedures.

Officers are aware of the Welsh Language Standards having attended training, and this Complaints and Concerns Policy via briefings. Officers will follow this corporate approach when dealing with a complaint concerning the Welsh Language and our Standards and are able to consult with the authority’s Compliance Officer and Service Manager for the Welsh Language for further advice.

If you feel that the complaint has not been resolved satisfactorily or that someone is interfering with your freedom to use Welsh, you may complain directly to the Welsh Language Commissioner. You can contact the Welsh Language Commissioner by:     

  • Phone: 0845 6033221
  • Email: post@welshlanguagecommissioner.org
  • Writing to: The Welsh Language Commissioner, Market Chambers, 5-7 St Mary Street, Cardiff CF10 1AT
  • Alternatively call in to any of our reception centres who hold a copy of the Commissioners Guide to making a complaint.

11. Public Services Ombudsman for Wales

If we do not succeed in resolving your complaint, you may complain to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales. The Ombudsman is independent of all public bodies and can look into your complaint if you believe that you personally, or the person on whose behalf you are complaining:

  • have been treated unfairly, or received a poor service as a result of a failure on the part of the body providing it. 
  • have been disadvantaged personally by a service failure or have been treated unfairly.  

You can contact the Ombudsman by:

  • telephone: 0300 790 0203
  • e-mail:  ask@ombudsman-wales.org.uk
  • writing to: The Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, 1 Ffordd yr Hen Gae, Pencoed CF35 5LJ                      

12. Learning Lessons

We take complaints seriously and try to learn from any mistakes that we have made. All service improvements identified from complaints are logged and monitored by the Customer Feedback and Engagement Team and examples of these will be made publicly available on the ‘you said we did’ section of the Council’s website.

Our Corporate Management Team and Cabinet will consider a 6 monthly summary of all complaints received, plus details of any serious complaints with recommendations where service improvements have been identified. 

13. Further Help

If you are dealing with a member of Council staff they can help you make your complaint known to us. If you need extra assistance, we will try to put you in touch with someone who can help.  

Older People

If you are over the age of 60, you can get advice and assistance from the Older   People’s Commissioner for Wales, whose contact details are:

The Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, Cambrian Buildings, Mount Stuart Square, Butetown, Cardiff CF10 5FL

Telephone No: 02920 445 030 (local rate) or 08442 640 670 (standard rate), or by Fax No: 08442 640 680.

Children and Young People

If you are under the age of 18 you can get advice and assistance from the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, whose contact details are:

14. What We Expect From You When Dealing With Your Complaint

We accept that in times of trouble or distress people may act out of character and that there may have been upsetting or distressing circumstances leading up to a complaint.

We believe you have the right to be heard, understood and respected however, we also consider that our staff have the same rights and therefore expect you to be polite and courteous in your dealings with us. We will not tolerate aggressive or abusive behaviour, unreasonable actions, demands or persistence. 

We will invoke our Unreasonably Persistent Customer policy to manage situations when a person’s behaviour in relation to their complaint is considered unreasonable or unacceptable, or when the nature/ frequency of their contact takes up a disproportionate amount of time.

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