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Last reviewed: June 2024
Overall responsibility for implementation: Deputy Chief Executive
Responsibility for maintenance: Director of Finance & Operations
Next review date: July 2025

The Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) is committed to delivering a good service to our clients and beneficiaries. Complaints provide opportunities to understand how clients and beneficiaries experience our services and how we might improve them. We seek to handle any complaints received in a prompt, courteous and helpful manner.

CSE’s complaints handling is based on four key principles:

  1. Good record-keeping of our activities and correspondence, both in our day-to-day business practices and during the processing of complaints.
  2. Good communication with our clients and beneficiaries, keeping them informed during any complaints handling, and transparency in presenting our complaints handling procedures.
  3. Fair, consistent, prompt and thorough investigation of any complaints that arise.
  4. Cooperation with others, including our clients, partners, supply chain and the relevant regulatory and ombudsman services, to ensure that complaints are dealt with effectively.

Our complaints policy is reviewed annually. Where CSE is brokering a purchase by a customer or client, details are provided at or soon after point of sale. We routinely seek customer feedback to encourage customers to share their experiences, whether positive or negative.

What is an eligible complaint?

An eligible complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction about a service delivered or subcontracted by CSE. Complaints can take many forms and may not be explicitly expressed by the customer or client as a complaint. We treat any of the following incidents as complaints:

We encourage staff to treat any expression of dissatisfaction with a service by a client or customer as a source of information about the quality of our service and an opportunity to make improvements.

Complaints from service users about processes or criteria that are stipulated by government, clients or funders will not be processed as a complaint by CSE; we will direct customers to an appropriate recipient for their complaint where possible. Recurring issues will be raised by CSE with the client funder.

Where a complaint received by CSE is ineligible to be handled by CSE, we will notify the complainant in writing.

Who can complain?

We will consider complaints from a person or organisation who has been directly or indirectly adversely affected by the activities or attitudes of CSE’s staff, trustees, volunteers or subcontractors acting in their capacity as a CSE representative.

CSE regularly works with vulnerable clients, such as younger and older people, those with a physical disability and those who do not speak English as a first language.

We are committed to providing a helpful service to ensure that nobody is excluded from accessing our complaints procedure, such as:

Complaints procedure

Complaints may be formally received by CSE staff, or by our subcontractors following our contractual agreement for the handling of complaints. Volunteers should direct complainants to a member of CSE staff and not attempt to handle complaints themselves.

When a complaint is received:

Complaints will normally be investigated by the Director of Team responsible for the area of work in which the complaint has arisen.

If a complaint is made about a member of CSE staff, it will be handled by their Director of Team. Complaints about members of the Senior Leadership Team will be handled by the Chief Executive (or Deputy Chief Executive in their absence). Complaints about the Chief Executive or Deputy Chief Executive will be handled by the Chair of Trustees or another trustee nominated by them. Members of staff named in the complaint, either personally or by role, will be informed of the complaint and supported by their manager during the investigation.

Complaint investigation may involve:

Within ten working days of receiving a complaint (whether written, electronic or verbal) CSE will reply, confirming that the complaint has been received and providing details of our complaints handling procedure, timescales and, where applicable, details of the relevant Ombudsman Service.

In the event that we cannot resolve the complaint within fifteen working days, the complaint will be referred to CSE’s Chief Executive, Deputy or nominated Trustee, and the complainant will be informed.

All complainants will receive a final decision from CSE regarding their complaint within eight weeks. We will endeavour to provide a response much sooner than this where possible. This will include:

CSE’s relevant Director of Team will be responsible for ensuring that prompt action is taken to deliver any offer of remedial action accepted by the complainant.

Should the complaint be escalated to a relevant Ombudsman Service, CSE will cooperate fully with its investigation and, where relevant, work with our supply chain to help them do the same.

Supply chain complaints

Complaints may be received relating to the actions of CSE’s subcontractors where CSE holds a responsibility to the consumer. Our contractual relationships with subcontractors include complaints handling requirements to ensure these are dealt with effectively.

Complaints will be handled by the recipient of the complaint (either CSE or the subcontractor) to reduce risk of confusion to the complainant.

Where complaints are received directly by the subcontractor, the complaint must be reported to the relevant CSE project manager in full detail as soon as possible.

Where complaints are received by CSE, we will obtain all necessary information from the organisation(s) in question about the incident and, where applicable, notify any relevant accreditation body of the organisation(s) involved.

Complaints handling must comply with the principles of CSE’s complaints procedure regardless of whether the response to the complaint is being directly managed by CSE or by its subcontractor.

Recording complaints

All statements, letters, phone calls and actions taken in an investigation are documented and maintained by the project manager of each project, or the Director of Team for wider issues. This includes:

Complaint details are held confidentially and recorded as part of our record of correspondence with each customer. The nature of CSE services is such that we need to be aware of past issues when dealing with customers and clients in order to ensure subsequent services to them are delivered to best effect.

Complaint records, including details of the complaint received and the measures taken for its resolution are normally retained for three years from the date the complaint was received. In some cases (such as long-term projects) this period may be longer in order to comply with reporting and quality management requirements, providing this arrangement complies with the principles of the Data Protection Act and General Data Protection Regulations with regard to storing and destroying personal data.

Complaints are monitored by Director of Team to identify and address any systematic problems that may arise.