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Complaints about your benefits claim

You have the right to expect a reasonable standard of service from the people dealing with your benefit claim. Service includes things such as meeting target times for dealing with claims and providing interpretation facilities. This guide explains when a complaint can be made and how to go about it.

1. When can I make a complaint?

You have the right to expect a reasonable standard of service from the people dealing with your benefit claim. Service includes things such as meeting target times for dealing with claims and providing interpretation facilities. 

Most government departments that deal with benefits, including your local authority, will have a charter or standards of service that sets out and what you can expect. You will be able to get this from their offices or websites.

You can make a complaint if, for example:

  • You have received poor service
  • You have been disadvantaged because of their mistakes or a slow response
  • They have discriminated against you

You can complain whether or not you have made a claim for benefits. However, if you have claimed a benefit and you think a decision is wrong, you will not be able to change the decision by making a complaint. You will have to challenge the benefit decision as well.

Applies: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

2. Who do I complain to?

You should make your complaint to the office that caused the problem. This could be the department that dealt with your claim or it could be a different place where you made an enquiry and got advice. It could be one of the following:

You may be able to complain informally by talking to a manager at the relevant local office, or just to a member of staff. Make sure you take a note of the name of the person you speak to.

If this does not sort out the problem, you may need to put the complaint in writing. Make sure you keep a copy before sending your complaint.

Most organisations have their own internal complaints procedure that should be available on request. There will usually be a customer service manager or equivalent who acts as a point of contact for complaints. There will then be further formal stages for dealing with the complaint.
 

3. What might happen as a result of my complaint?

If you make a complaint, it may result in:

  • An explanation of how the problem occurred
  • A promise that the problem will be put right, if this is possible
  • A change in procedure to help other people in the future, and could help you if you have to use the same office again
  • Financial compensation,which is only available in some circumstances.