Complaints Policy

The board ensures that there are policies and procedures in place to enable complaints to be raised by staff, volunteers, families and other stakeholders.

Openness to comments and complaints provides information about how West Somerset Advice Bureau’s (WSAB) work is carried out. It can assist the volunteers, staff and board of trustees to be more sensitive to a client’s needs.

 Objects of the complaints procedure

The Complaints Procedure enables clients being supported by WSAB to make complaints about the service and to have their complaints considered.

A complaint, in the context of the Procedure, means:

‘the expression of dissatisfaction with the service provided and the wish to have that dissatisfaction recorded and/or considered for improvement of the service and for the removal of dissatisfaction’.

Relationship with the grievance and disciplinary procedures

The Complaints Procedure is separate and distinct from the Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures.

The Grievance Procedure enables employees to raise grievances in connection with their condition of employment and other employment-related matters. The Disciplinary Procedure is used by the employer when an employee may be in breach of the terms of employment.

However, an investigation of complaints may lead to disciplinary issues.

 Who may complain

Any client being seen at the Bureau, outreach centre, or visited by an outreach worker in their own home may make a complaint.  Each client should be given information about what to do if dissatisfied with the Bureau’s service.

Responsibility of staff and volunteers  

WSAB staff and volunteers need to be sensitive and helpful to clients, and those acting on their behalf, who express a concern.  This is part of WSAB commitment to a high quality service. Staff should give information about the Complaints Procedure and help complainants to understand and use it.

Staff and volunteers must advise families who feel that they may have been subject to racial discrimination that they also have the right to use the provisions of the Equality Act 2010.  There should be no delay in giving this information since there is a three month time limit for making applications under the Act.  However, it is up to the person concerned to decide whether to use that process and it is advisable for them to take specialist advice before proceeding.

The Manager of West Somerset Advice is responsible for ensuring the smooth working of the Complaints Procedure.

Your right to complain

Every year the our  Advice service helps local people. However, every so often someone comes away from feeling unhappy. Perhaps you had to wait for ages, only to find out that there is very little we can do for you. Perhaps you felt that you were not treated with respect or courtesy. Perhaps our advice didn’t help or was wrong.

Unfortunately, these things happen. We know we are not perfect. But we aim to be. That is why we have a complaints procedure. Sometimes we can put things right; sometimes we can only explain ourselves and apologise. But we do want to learn from our mistakes. What you tell us helps to improve our service to you.

We will treat your complaint confidentially, seriously and quickly.

What can I do?

It is important to let us know that you are unhappy and to give us the chance to put things right. Don’t be afraid to speak to the manager or supervisor – we might be able to sort out the problem straight away. Otherwise, move to the more formal process.

If you are not a client, ask the bureau manager to explain the Third Party complaints procedure to you

Making a formal complaint

There are several ways to make a complaint. You can put the information in a letter and post it to us or drop it into the bureau. Complaints can be addressed to the bureau manager or chair. You can tell the bureau on the phone or face-to-face that you want them to investigate your complaint.

Your complaint will be investigated by the bureau manager under the direction of the chair of the Trustees, or by the chair if you are complaining about the manager. If it is upheld, you will get a full apology and, where appropriate, be given details of any action that the bureau is taking to put things right. If you are not satisfied with the outcome, you can ask for a further review.

We will acknowledge your complaint within 14 days and aim to respond in full in eight weeks. However, if the issue is complicated, any delay will be explained and you will be kept informed of progress.

Third party complaints

Giving consumers a right to complain about a poor service and obtain redress is one of the key principles that underpin consumer policy. West Somerset Advice according will consider complaints from a third party where this will enable the charity to discharge its duty to protect natural justice.

In dealing with the complaint the reviewer will consider:

  • Any conflict of interest with a client of our service, the extent to which a complaint from an opposing client may prevent the charity from robustly defending a client of the service.
  • Where there are other remedies available to the complainant to seek any redress i.e. allegations of misconduct.
  • Any breach of data protection which has compromised personal data
  • The individual circumstances of the case and if any action by the bureau adviser was discriminatory, unfair or breached the terms of our charitable status.

In forming this policy and procedure the charity has taken into consideration the Legal Ombudsman’s paper on third party complaints ‘Extending routes to redress’

Send your complaint to

The Manager or the Chair the Trustee Board, West Somerset Advice, Market House Lane, Minehead, TA24 5NW.

Or use the on line form ‘Feedback’.

Review of your complaint

If you are still not happy after our response, you can request a further review. This will be considered by the chair of trustees or another member of the Trustee Board not involved in the initial complaint.

West Somerset Advice is a member of Advice UK   website contains information on other ways to complain.

The Information Commissioner Office

If you are not satisfied with the way we have treated your information you can complain to the ‘Data Controller’ on 01643 802 443 or the Information Commissioners Office helpline on 0303 123 1113. Our reference is Z533303X.

The Financial Ombudsman’s Service

The Financial Ombudsman Service provides a free, independent service for clients to solve disputes with not for profit debt advice providers.

The Financial Ombudsman Service will only step in once the local Citizens Advice has had the opportunity to investigate matters, so please contact the local Citizens Advice first.

If your complaint is about debt advice or if you were seeking advice about your credit record and you are not satisfied with the local Citizens Advice final response or if eight weeks have passed since you first let the bureau know about your concerns, you can ask the Financial Ombudsman to review your complaint.

Contact the Financial Ombudsmans Service

By post:
Financial Ombudsman Service
South Quay Plaza
183 Marsh Wall
London E14 9SR

By phone:

  • 0800 0234 567 – free for people phoning from a ‘fixed’ line (eg a landline at home)
  • 0300 123 9 123 – free for mobile phone users who pay a monthly charge for calls to numbers starting 01 and 02.

By email:


West Somerset Advice is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority FRN 628959

If you wish to complain about the organisation the charity is registered with the Charity Commission registration number 1126930

Companies House registration number 06693841