Feedback and complaints

How we deal with your feedback and what to do if you are not happy

We are focused on delivering the best for our customers and have an aim to establish a reputation as an organisation that delivers excellent service and is truly customer focused.

Sometimes things go wrong and if this happens, we need you to tell us so we can try and put it right. We will do this by following our feedback procedure.

We define a complaint as being:

"An expression of dissatisfaction about the council’s action or lack of action; or about the standard of a service (where any investigation may identify how the council can implement change to make improvements). This can be whether the council took the action itself or a person acting on behalf of the council. We cannot investigate any feedback where there is a separate route of appeal, or where we will not be able to instigate an enhanced service as a result."

We encourage your suggestions and comments as these can help us improve our services and drive positive changes.

We also want to know when our staff have exceeded your expectations. Your compliments will be passed on to ensure our staff member or team are recognised.

We handle all feedback cases with the strictest confidence, promptly, politely and seriously.

Making a complaint

By complaining you give us the opportunity to put things right and review the way we do things in future.

If you have feedback, please be aware you should normally contact us within 12 months of when you first knew about this issue. If you leave it any later, we may not be able to help.

Make a complaint

We will do our best to resolve your complaint to your satisfaction by following our complaints procedure.

Stage one

Our Feedback Team will acknowledge receipt of your complaint within three working days and refer this to an Investigation Officer in the relevant service. They will investigate and resolve your complaint within eight weeks. If your complaint is lengthy or complex, we may need longer to investigate the issues. We will keep you updated with an expected response date.

Stage two

If you are dissatisfied with the stage one response but feel we may still be able to resolve your complaint, we will progress your concerns to stage two. Our Feedback Team will acknowledge the escalation of your complaint within three working days and refer this to an officer in our Feedback Team. They will do a further independent investigation into your complaint within four weeks. Again, we may need longer to investigate if your complaint is lengthy or complex.

This review is the final stage of our internal complaint's procedure.

When responding to complaints we will include:

  • an apology
  • an explanation of what our investigation has found
  • information on any actions taken or to be taken

In rare occasions we may decide to combine a stage one and two investigation and response. This is at our discretion and will occur where an impartial member of the feedback or senior management team deem is more beneficial for the customer to avoid delays or distress, or where a further review would not change the outcome.

Stage three

If you remain unhappy with the outcome of our investigations, you can refer your complaint to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.

In most cases, the Ombudsman can only investigate if you:

  • complain to them within 12 months of becoming aware of the matter
  • can show how what we have done wrong has had a significant impact on you - they call this 'personal injustice'

Making a comment or suggestion

We encourage your suggestions and comments as these can help us improve our services and drive positive changes. These can be on any aspect of our services.

If requested, our Feedback Team will acknowledge receipt of your comment or suggestion within three working days and refer this to the appropriate service or staff member.

Make a suggestion or comment

Making a compliment

We also want to know when our staff have exceeded your expectations.

Make a compliment

If you are unable to complete the form, you can provide feedback to us through the following ways:

Feedback Team
North Devon Council
PO Box 379
EX32 2GR

Feedback can be made on behalf of customers who are unable to make the case themselves. Our staff are available to help customers who are unsure what to do and support can be provided.

We can provide advice and information in alternative languages or formats.

What falls outside of our feedback procedure

We have a separate process for appeals against certain council decisions as these usually result from legal requirements as there is a separate route of appeal. For example:

Service improvement 

We recognise feedback is an invaluable tool that helps us to measure the quality of service we are delivering. We aim to learn from all feedback we receive and use it positively to continuously improve our services.

We are keen to improve our feedback procedures for our customers. Sometimes, we may contact you following the closure of your complaint to see whether you would like to participate in completing our complaint survey. The survey assists us in reviewing our complaint procedure with an aim of making the process more user friendly and easier for our customers to voice their concerns.

If you are unhappy about the way we have dealt with a complaint about data protection or freedom of information, please contact the Office of the Information Commissioner.


In order to investigate and administer your feedback, it is necessary for us to collect and hold personal information about you. Please see our privacy pages for detailed information about why we need your data, what we do with it and how long we keep it for.

Unreasonable customer behaviour

We recognise that we may receive feedback from persons with widely varying ways of expressing themselves and who may possibly be angry, impatient, frustrated or extremely worried, depending on their situation and circumstances.

There are a small number of customers who, because of their behaviour and/or the frequency or nature of their contact with us, hinder our consideration of their complaint.

We refer to such behaviour as 'unreasonable' or persistent behaviour. In these circumstances we will consider invoking sanctions through our Preventing and Controlling Violence, Aggression and Other Unreasonable Customer Behaviour Policy.

Examples of the behaviours which may cause the policy to be invoked are:

  • introducing irrelevant or trivial new information
  • constantly changing the basis of the complaint
  • submitting repeat complaints
  • making unnecessarily excessive demands on the time and resources of staff
  • adopting a 'scattergun' approach
  • use of discriminatory and/or offensive language/views

Examples of options to deal with this may include:

  • Requesting language used or volume of contact to be altered
  • Using a single point of contact
  • Temporarily restricting contact

Unreasonable customer behaviour policy

Ombudsman complaint outcomes

Every year, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman produces its annual review report. This provides the number of complaints and enquiries they have received relating to each English local authority and the decisions they have made as a result.

Annual Review Letter 2023

Annual Review Letter 2022

Annual Review Letter 2021

Annual Review Letter 2020

Annual Review Letter continued

All of the ombudsman investigation decisions are published on their website.