DWP Central Freedom of Information Team
Our Ref: FOI2019/38427
8 November 2019
Dear Mark Abraham,
Thank you for your Freedom of Information (FoI) request received on 18 October. You asked:
I'm writing to follow up on my earlier enquiry not pursued through this website, under reference
In it you said:
"The Department’s complaint handling tool went live on 4 July 2005.
DWP record a complaint against specific root causes that identifies broadly where service has
failed. These are: - • You haven't given me the information that suits my needs • DWP staff
don't treat me with respect • I can't access the system • You take too long • You've got it wrong
•I have to contact a number of agencies to tell them the same thing As the complaints handling
tool contains customer personal information, it is not available for inspection or interrogation.
Information, advice, instructions or guidance available for staff in utilising the complaint
handling tool is held internally."
Could you release the information held internally please?
I confirm we hold information relating to your request. Internal Guidance is shown at Annex A
If you have any queries about this letter, please contact us quoting the reference number
DWP Central FoI Team
Your right to complain under the Freedom of Information Act
If you are not happy with this response you may request an internal review by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org
or by writing to DWP, Central FoI Team, Caxton
House, Tothil Street, SW1H 9NA. Any review request should be submitted within two months
of the date of this letter.
If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review you may apply directly to the
Information Commissioner’s Office for a decision. Generally, the Commissioner cannot make a
decision unless you have exhausted our own complaints procedure. The Information
Commissioner can be contacted at: The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House,
Water Lane, Wilmslow Cheshire SK9 5AF
or telephone 0303 123 1113 or 01625 545745
DWP Definition of a complaint:
Any expression of dissatisfaction about the service provided which is not resolved by
operational staff as normal business.
What is good complaint handling?
A complaint can offer a unique insight into the customer’s experience of the Department,
and if the complaint is handled well, it can enhance their view of the Department as a whole.
The Department is committed to ensuring that complaints are responded to in a positive and
timely manner. To this end, you should focus on clarifying why the complainant is
dissatisfied, and attempt to resolve matters at the earliest opportunity. Resolving complaints
at the outset can reduce the need for the complainant to escalate their complaint in order to
achieve an appropriate response and/or outcome.
What if the complaint is unclear?
If it is unclear from the individual’s communication what their complaint is, you should
contact them, preferably by telephone, to clarify matters. It is much easier to focus your
response on what is important to the individual if you understand why they are dissatisfied. How do I resolve a complaint: initial response (tier 1)?
We recommend that you speak to the complainant in the first instance because this is likely
to give you a better insight into their concerns and what they want to happen in response.
Telephone contact offers a quicker and more personal approach which people often prefer. It
allows you the opportunity to develop a better rapport which can help you to resolve the
complaint. For example, an explanation might be sufficient to resolve matters.
If the complainant confirms that the information you have given them answers their
complaint, you should make a note of the call and that the complaint was addressed to the
If the complainant is dissatisfied with your explanations/information, you will need to
signpost them to the next tier. In such cases, it would be helpful to check if they want a
written response to their complaint.
If a written reply is required, you should aim to answer each issue raised in a clear and
concise way, which avoids jargon. What if I can’t resolve the complaint: who should they complain to next?
If it is clear from your conversation that the complaint isn’t resolved, or if you are sending a
written response, you should signpost the complainant to the next tier.
How do I respond to a second complaint: tier 2/final tier?
If the complainant gets in touch again about the same issues you should prepare a final tier
response from the Director General. Where can they complain next?
All complaints about DWP’s service should be signposted to the Independent Case
Examiner (ICE). The ICE offers an impartial complaint review service for complaints about
DWP maladministration. They cannot consider complaints about legislation or policy.
Where can I/the complainant find out more about the Parliamentary and Health Service
Ultimately a complaint about DWP’s service could be considered by the Ombudsman. The
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) will consider investigating
complaints about Departmental maladministration. (They cannot look at legislation or policy
either.) They generally expect the complainant to have exhausted the DWP’s complaints
process first but can make an exception. Details of the Ombudsman’s service, which
includes their contact details and what they can and cannot look at, can be found at their
What are the timescales for answering a complaint?
aim to resolve/answer the complaint within 15 working days
What should be classed as a Complaint?
Any communication in which the customer expresses dissatisfaction with the service
provided and can include the following:
You promised me that my benefit would be paid into my bank account 2 weeks
ago. I stil haven’t received it and I have called twice now asking where it is, each time
I’ve been told it should be in my bank account within a couple of days, it’s not good
I have had to call you time and time again to find out when my benefit arrears wil
be sorted out, I shouldn’t have to do this, it’s costing me a fortune in phone bil s.’
I wrote to tell you that I was going in to hospital on the 25th of July. You have sent
me a notification to say that my benefit has been suspended but the letter says that I
have been in hospital since the 25th June. You’ve got it wrong and I’d like this to be put
What should not be classed as a complaint?
Unhappy with the decision
Disagreeing with changes to legislation
Unhappy with policy