Project 17

Complaining to Children's Services/NRPF Teams

You can use this template letter to make a complaint, but we suggest you read the information below first.

Who can make a complaint?

You can make a complaint against your local authority’s Children’s Services or No Recourse to Public Funds Team if you are not happy with the way you were treated. For example, you could complain if you were wrongly refused support, or if you were not treated with respect by Council staff.

Please be aware that complaints can take a long time to be processed, so if your situation is very urgent, you might want to seek advice instead of making a complaint. It is normally better to make a complaint after your immediate problems have been resolved if you are not happy with how your case was handled.

Why should I make a complaint?

We think it’s important that people who have experienced poor treatment make complaints. Without a complaint, there are often no consequences for the staff members or local authority when things go wrong. This means other families might experience the same problems you faced.

Complaints can improve the situation for everybody:

The problems families with no recourse to public funds face when they approach local authorities for support are not isolated issues. We see the same issues happening over and over again. We’re really concerned that these issues are getting worse and we believe complaints will help to stop families being treated so badly.

Complaints can improve the situation for you:

Complaints are also a way for you to say that you know something went wrong and that you expect something to be done about it.

How do I make a complaint?

To make a complaint, you’ll need to write a letter to the Council. This should state that you are making a formal complaint against Children’s Services or the No Recourse to Public Funds Team.

In the letter, you should try to clearly explain the problem and what you think went wrong. It’s important to be as specific as possible:

  • When did the problem occur?
  • Who was there?
  • What was said?

If you have any evidence to help you prove what happened, it’s very useful to send this to the Council with your complaint.

Feel free to use our complaint template letter to help you.

There are specific complaints departments within local authorities who will deal with your complaint. If you are in London, you can find their address here. Otherwise, you can search for it on the internet.

If you want support to make a complaint, you can contact your local councillors.

Will I get into trouble?

You are entitled to use the complaints process and you should not be penalised for making a complaint.

Things should get better if you make a complaint, not worse.

If you are concerned about making a complaint, speak to your adviser.

If you feel you are being penalised for making a complaint, please get in touch with us so we can support you. 

How should the Council respond?

Each local authority has a different complaints process, but complaints involving children’s social should follow the statutory process below:

Stage 1

You should receive a response to your complaint within 10 working days. The local authority may extend this to 20 working days if they need more time.

Stage 2

If you are not satisfied with the response you receive at Stage 1, you can write back to the Council to ask them to consider your complaint at Stage 2. You should explain why the Stage 1 response did not answer your complaint.

Stage 2 involves an investigation by an independent person. An investigating officer will be appointed to conduct an investigation.

You should receive a response within 25 working days, but this can be extended to 65 working days if needed.

Stage 3

If you are unhappy with the response you receive at Stage 2, you can ask for your complaint to go to Stage 3 of the complaints process. You need to explain why your complaint was not addressed by the response in Stage 2.

At Stage 3, a review panel will meet to review the complaint and decide if the investigation was fair. You can ask a friend, relative, or advocate to speak on your behalf.

The review panel will send their recommendations to you and the Director of Children’s Social Services.

Final stage: Local Government Ombudsman

If you are not satisfied with the response you receive at Stage 3, you can make a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman, an independent body which investigates complaints about councils. To do this, visit

We have found that Council responses can sometimes be disappointing. If you are not satisfied with your response, we would strongly advise you to go through the complaints process and contact the local government ombudsman.