The Privy Council Office is committed to delivering efficient, high-quality services. We aim to provide prompt, courteous, helpful, open and informative advice in response to every approach made to the Office.

We are always keen to hear the views of our customers about our performance generally – what we do right, and what we do wrong. We recognise that, as in all organisations, from time to time things go wrong, and we may not always provide the standard of service that we have set ourselves. We are especially keen to hear about such instances since they provide us with an opportunity to put things right.

Types of complaint handled

Handling complaints quickly, fairly, and helpfully is a key part of our approach to service delivery. Examples of complaints about a service provided by the Office might include:

  • dissatisfaction with the way in which we responded to an enquiry;
  • the time taken to respond to an enquiry;
  • a perceived injustice because of alleged maladministration on the part of the Office.

When PCO fails to provide the quality of service expected we will endeavour to:

  • ensure that making a complaint is as easy as possible;
  • treat a complaint seriously whether it is made by letter, e-mail or telephone;
  • deal with it promptly, politely, and where appropriate, informally (for example by telephone);
  • include in our response an apology where we have got things wrong, an explanation of the position and/or information on any actions taken etc.

How to make a complaint

You can make a complaint by letter, e-mail or telephone. When you complain, please be ready to say how you would prefer to receive a response and to provide the relevant contact details.

If you have already been dealing with someone in the Office, you should normally address your complaint to that person in the first place. This will give them the opportunity to explain what actions have been taken and to try to sort things out with you directly. If you are not satisfied with this response, or if you prefer to deal with someone else, you can ask the member of staff for the name and contact details of their immediate line manager and you should address your complaint to them.

Alternatively, if you would prefer to write to the Office, you should write to:

Mrs Ceri King LVO
Head of Secretariat and Deputy Clerk of the Council
Room G/04
1 Horse Guards Road

What happens next?

The person who receives your complaint will use their best endeavours to:

  • treat the complaint fairly and politely, and investigate it thoroughly and sensitively;
  • respond promptly. Our target for replying to complaints is 20 working days from the date of receipt.

If it is not possible to give you a full reply within this time, for instance because a detailed investigation is required, we will give you an interim response, telling you what is being done to deal with your complaint, and when you can expect the full reply and from whom.

Still unhappy?

If you are not happy with the response, the matter will be referred to a nominated PCO Complaints Officer, who will invite the relevant staff and their managers to consider the issue afresh, and issue the Office’s response to your complaint.

The Complaints Officer will acknowledge your complaint within 5 working days of receipt and will aim to respond fully within 20 working days. If this is not possible, you will be contacted again to discuss a revised date.

If a complaint cannot, for whatever reason, be dealt with by PCO staff, we will undertake to refer the complaint to someone within our parent body, the Cabinet Office, who was not involved in the original complaint, and they will re-assess how this office handled the original request.

Following any stage of the procedure, a complainant has a maximum of 28 days from the date of the final response to request that their complaint be progressed to the next stage.

If you remain dissatisfied

If having followed the 2 stages of our complaints procedure you still remain dissatisfied, you can ask to have your complaint reviewed externally.

You should contact your Member of Parliament and ask for your complaint to be referred to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. The Ombudsman can carry out independent investigations into complaints about government departments, agencies and some public bodies, including the Privy Council Office.

The Parliamentary Ombudsman (also known as the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration) investigates complaints that injustice has been caused by maladministration on the part of UK government departments or other public bodies.

The Parliamentary Ombudsman is an officer of the House of Commons (appointed by the Crown) and is independent of the government. Powers and responsibilities are set out in the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1967.

The present Parliamentary Ombudsman, Dame Julie Mellor, DBE, also holds the separate post of Health Service Commissioner for England, looking into complaints against the NHS.

Complaints about appropriate Scottish and Welsh bodies are the responsibility of the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman and the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.

Contact details for the Parliamentary and Health Ombudsman

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
Millbank Tower
Complaints helpline: 0345 015 4033
Textphone (Minicom): 0300 061 4298

You can write to your MP at:

House of Commons

Our contact details are:

The Privy Council Office
Room G/04
1 Horse Guards Road