Presently we are responding to emails; however, due to the impact on our staffing resources, our response times will be affected. We are also postponing non-essential meetings and instead communicate by phone/online meetings wherever possible.
We appreciate that public services are under huge resource pressures as you focus on responding to COVID-19 and the delivery of essential services. Please be assured that we are taking full account of the current context in how we operate. While we are committed to delivering our statutory responsibilities, we in no way wish to put unnecessary pressure on you and we fully support you in times of such unprecedented challenges.
Scottish Welfare Fund
We are continuing to deliver our essential services and have prioritised Scottish Welfare Fund (SWF) reviews and processing of certain complaints as essential. SWF review applications are being handled as far as possible as normal and local authorities should not see a significant difference in the level of service. If your local authority is experiencing difficulties responding to our enquiries, please contact us immediately.
Complaints to SPSO
We are still receiving postal deliveries and new complaints but the work done on them will be severely limited for the foreseeable future. We are scanning post and new complaints to identify complaints that relate directly to current service provision for vulnerable people, and those where we believe there is a real and present risk to public health and safety.
We will be progressing ‘essential’ new complaints. This means that we need to contact you for information, or discuss matters with you immediately. We expect such instances to be exceptional. Whilst we recognise you are under pressure, equally we hope you will appreciate that if we make contact it is due to the urgent nature of the case and so would greatly appreciate your support in such instances.
As regards all other complaints, we are trying to progress these as far as possible, as we recognise that they are important to both complainants and to public bodies, and their staff, being complained about.
We understand that you may not be in a position to respond to us within the usual time frames. When we start an investigation, it would be helpful if you could tell us whether you are in a position to engage in that investigation. We understand that your resources are likely to be stretched so we will avoid contacting where we can and we will take full account of what you tell us about your ability to respond and engage.
More generally, we would be grateful if you could keep us informed, as to the current position in your organisation in terms of your capacity to engage with us and in particular if contact details have changed temporarily.
Complaints handling in your organisation
We also understand that resource implications may impact on your ability to continue to deliver services to the standards that you normally would. So please remember that complaints procedures allow for timescales to be extended where appropriate. This extension should be used by organisations where applicable. Please ensure to keep your customers updated where this extension is applied. Equally, at the SPSO we are encouraging complainants to exercise patience and understanding if the service received falls below expectations or responses to complaints are delayed.
If you have any questions about complaint handling or concerns about the Model Complaint Handling Procedure, please contact us as normal via CSA@spso.gov.scot