What is the difference between a compliment, complaint or feedback?

It is important to understand the difference between a compliment, a complaint and feedback as this may affect the way it is handled and what you can expect from this process.

What is a compliment?

South Holland District Council staff and Members are always pleased to get positive feedback when things go well. You may have noticed an improvement in a service you receive or found that a member of staff were exceptionally helpful to you. A compliment may relate to an individual or to a piece of work that the Council has done, either way, it would be lovely to hear from you.

What is a complaint?

For the purpose of this Procedure, South Holland District Council accepts the Local Government Ombudsman's definition:-

"An expression of dissatisfaction about service, action or lack of action, however made, provided directly by the Council or by a contractor or partner, affecting an individual resident or a group of residents, that requires a response."

(Guidance on Running a Complaints System - Guidance on Good Practice)

South Holland District Council's Corporate Compliments, Complaints & Feedback Procedure deals with all complaints where there is not a specific or legal procedure to deal with the matter.  The following are the categories of complaints that fall within this Procedure:

  • Failure to consider relevant matters in coming to a decision or implementing it
  • Employee attitudes and the actions of individual employees
  • Delays in responding, or complaints about the administrative process.
  • Failure to provide a service properly or at all
  • Failure to fulfil statutory responsibilities - but not disagreements with those powers or duties.
  • Bias or unfair discrimination.

You may complain about the standard of the service received because:

  • We have not provided the service to the standard which you think is reasonable, or
  • We are doing something which you did not want us to do, or
  • We are carrying out our duties in an unsatisfactory way, or
  • Our staff or contractors are behaving in an unacceptable way (including rudeness, violence or aggression), or
  • We repeatedly fail to do something which we have been asked to  do, or
  • We fail to do something which you think we should have done, even if we were not actually asked to do it.

What is not a complaint?

A request for a service that is made for the first time.  For example, if you report your neighbours for making a noise and we fail to investigate your complaint then it becomes a complaint.

This Procedure will not to be used for the following:

  • Complaints which are essentially disagreements with statutory powers or duties, council policies or decisions in themselves, rather than the way they have been carried out.
  • Complaints against individual employees which arise directly from the resident's dissatisfaction with a Council policy or decision.
  • A planning or development control matter, or housing or council tax benefit or homelessness matter where a right of objection exists, unless the complaint relates specifically to the way the matter has been administered.
  • A matter which is, or could reasonably be, the subject of court or tribunal proceedings, or which is in the hands of the Council's insurers.
  • Complaints against district, town or parish councillors.  There is a separate complaints procedure for dealing with these complaints which is available on request.

Comments and views about Council Policy which has been agreed democratically in accordance with the Council's Constitution, cannot be treated as a complaint. You may wish to give us your views as feedback instead.

What is feedback?

  • You may wish to give your views on a matter of Council Policy that has already been agreed democratically in accordance with the Council's Constitution. This will be treated as feedback and passed to the relevant service area.

    Feedback may also include suggestions. If you have a suggestion that you wish to submit to the Council, please submit this to the relevant service area directly.