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Complaints Policy

Policy

Our policy is to welcome all complaints, to investigate them fully and resolve them wherever possible.

The definition of a complaint

A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction, whether justified or not, about FMA UK’s policy or actions. A complaint can be received verbally, by phone, by email or in writing. It can be from outside FMA UK, from a group, RC or trustee.

Complaints arrangements do not cover:

  • requests for information or explanation of policy and practice
  • matters for which there is a separate procedure
  • personal disputes/clashes between people that have no bearing on FMA UK unless it brings FMA UK cause into disrepute

Where the complaints policy does not address a specific enquiry FMA UK may be able to address under a separate process or policy.

Why we have a complaints procedure

Complaints, if handled properly, can lead to better working relationships with our partners and customers. To help achieve this, our complaints procedure lets people know that they can complain; that we will consider their concerns fairly and objectively; and that, where possible, we will resolve them. Complaints are also a form of market research. They can tell us where we are meeting our objectives, if our objectives are appropriate, whether there are areas where we have no objectives but where it might be appropriate to have some, or where we need to change the way we work more generally.

Monitoring and learning from complaints

So as to learn from complaints and to show that we are following these procedures we need to record complaints, which we do in a complaints log. At the end of each year this information is analysed, summarised and presented to the board along with recommendations if appropriate. With the volume of complaints being low this annual reporting is considered appropriate.

 

The board is looking for trends in the nature of complaints received. Are we having difficulties with a particular group of contacts? Is there a need for us to change the way we operate in a particular area of our work? And if the answer to any of these questions is "yes", are we taking the necessary action?

Who handles complaints

Our complaints procedure has four steps - three internal and one external. The intention is that most complaints will be resolved at stage one and the rest at stage two. Please see our Complaints flowchart on the website for a visual representation of our process.

Stage one

In most cases the complaint should be resolved by the individual responsible for the area of work being complained about.

Stage two

If the complainant feels that the problem has not been satisfactorily resolved, they can contact a Trustee or the Chair.

Stage three

If the complainant is still unhappy with FMA UK’s response they can ask for the complaint to be discussed at the next trustees meeting.

External Stage

The complainant can complain to the Charity Commission at any stage.

Getting the complaint to the right person in FMA UK

Complaints made in writing should be passed to the relevant person identified in the table below. Where no relevant person can be identified then the complaint should be passed to a trustee. Complaints made by telephone or through personal contact can be received at a number of points, sometimes far removed from the 'source' of the complaint. In these cases the recipient of the complaint should:

 

  • note the facts of the complaint
  • take the complainant's name, address and telephone number
  • tell the complainant that we have a complaints procedure
  • tell the complainant what will happen next
  • complete the initial sections of the complaints monitoring form
  • pass this information on to the relevant person within one working week
  • request that the complaint is followed up with a written account by post or by email so that the complaint is recorded in the complainants own words.

 

Written complaints can be sent to FMA UK office at the address below:

Complaints
FMA UK
Studio 3007,
Mile End,Abbeymill Business Centre,
12 Seedhill Road,Paisley, PA1 1JS

Table of Responsible persons

Area

Person Responsible

Comment

Support Group

Group Leader / Committee

 

Group Leader

Regional Coordinator

You could also speak to the groups committee

Regional Coordinator

RC Liaison / Trustee

 

Trustee

Chair

 

Office

Chair

 

Forum User

Forum Team

Use report post/pm  function

Moderator

WebMaster

 

WebMaster

Chair

 

Timetable

Complaints must be acknowledged by the person handling the complaint within a week. The acknowledgement should say who is dealing with the complaint and when the person complaining can expect a reply. A copy of our complaints procedure should be attached.

Ideally complainants should receive a definitive reply within four weeks. If this is not possible because for example, an investigation has not been fully completed, a progress report should be sent with an indication of when a full reply will be given.

Replying to the complaint (stage 1)

Whether the complaint is justified or not the reply to the complainant should describe the action taken to investigate the complaint, the conclusions from the investigation, and any action taken as a result of the complaint.

All replies should set out the procedure to be followed if the complainant is unhappy with FMA UK’s response.

Remedies

If the complaint is found to be justified we would consider what can be done to re-establish goodwill. What is appropriate will vary from case to case.  Do

  • Apologise (don't be grudging)
  • Explain what has been done to investigate the complaint, the findings, and what action has been taken as a result

This could include:

  • putting right what has gone wrong
  • an assurance that the situation will be put right
  • a change in procedures
  • an assurance that this will not happen again
  • to them or anyone else

Also to consider is:

  • a visit from a trustee or RC where practical
  • a gesture of goodwill

Recording complaints

The complaints record should be completed.

Stage two complaints - complaints that are taken further

Should the complainant decide to take matters further and contact a trustee or the Chair, that individual should:

  • Acknowledge receipt of the request within five working days of receiving it. The acknowledgement should confirm that the trustee or chair will deal with the case and say when the complainant can expect a reply. Complainants should receive a reply within 20 working days. If this is not possible a progress report should be sent with an indication of when a full reply will be given;
  • Keep the person who dealt with the original complaint, at stage one, informed of what is happening;
  • Investigate the facts of the case. This may involve reviewing the paperwork of the case and speaking with the person who dealt with the complaint at stage one.

Replying to the complainant (Stage two complaints)

The procedure is very similar to stage 1 complaints.

The reply should describe what has been done to investigate the complaint, the conclusions drawn from the investigation, and the action taken as a result of the investigation.

Should the Chair disagree with the findings of the original investigation the letter of reply should say so. FMA UK should apologise and where possible say what is being done to ensure that the problem does not happen again.

All replies should set out the procedure to follow if the complainant is unhappy with FMA UK's response i.e. give them the name and contact details of the person in accordance with Stage 3 of the process.

Recording Stage two complaints

The action taken would be recorded in the complaints log.

Stage three complaints

At the earliest opportunity the board should be alerted to the complaint. Repeat steps under stage two complaints. The complaint will be added to the agenda of next scheduled board meeting. Whatever the outcome, the reply should set out the process for taking the complaint further.

Recording Stage three complaints

Stage three complaints need to be recorded on the complaints monitoring form.

Guidelines for handling complaints about the Chair or trustees

FMA UK must take complaints about the Chair or trustees seriously and ensure they are properly investigated in a fair and open way.

Who handles complaints about the Chair or Trustees

If the complaint is about the Chair, the vice-Chair (or if the vice Chair is not available, the Secretary or Treasurer) will manage the complaint through the four stages as set out above, in place of the Chair.

If the complaint is about the trustees generally, the Chair will manage the complaint through the three stages with the expectation that advice from the Charity Commission will be sought if required. These stages must be expedited swiftly so that there is no suspicion that the trustees are failing to deal with a complaint about themselves.

Disclosure of information

When a complaint is made against a named individual it may be necessary to speak with the subject of complaint and understand their viewpoint. While the material facts of the complaint would be discussed and the subject of the complaint would be allowed to reply to these points it would not be general policy to disclose the identity of the complainant at this point.

 

The actual complaint would also be kept confidential at this point and only relevant items would be disclosed. If a complaint progresses then this information could be disclosed depending on the circumstances of the individual case.

Keeping a balance

FMA UK does not receive many complaints, so this policy needs to be seen in that context. There may be times when someone does not want to go as far as to make a complaint but they do have suggestions or comments about how things could be done better. FMA UK will be receptive to these and act upon them where possible.

 

Complaining to the Charity Commission

The following text in italics is from the Charity Commission’s website, and explains their policy for accepting complaints about charities. More information can be found on their website at: www.charitycommission.gov.uk/publications/cc47.aspx

Charity Commissions role

The Charity Commission is the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales. Our aim is to provide the best possible regulation in order to increase charities' effectiveness and the public's confidence and trust in them.

For the most part, the day-to-day running of charities remains the responsibility of charity trustees. Where things go wrong in charities our action will be evidence based and proportionate, taking account of the issue, the risk involved to the charity and its beneficiaries and the capacity of the charity to comply.

What is the Commission's approach when it receives a complaint about a charity?

“All complaints will be looked at so that we can decide what further action is required and whether the Commission is the appropriate regulator to take up the issue of concern. The complaint will be assessed to determine how serious it is and the risk it poses to the charity, its assets, beneficiaries or reputation.

We will acknowledge your complaint and let you know if we intend to take it further, but we will not enter into detailed correspondence about the action we intend to take. Once we reach a conclusion following an investigation into a complaint we will write to inform you of the outcome. “

What issues does the Commission want to know about?

The short answer

We need to know where there is a serious risk of significant harm to or abuse of a charity, its assets, beneficiaries or reputation.

In more detail

The issues we consider to be serious or significant and unacceptable for any charity, its trustees, employees or agents to be engaged in are set out in the list below. The issues are not listed in any order of priority:

  • significant financial loss to the charity
  • serious harm to beneficiaries and, in particular, vulnerable beneficiaries
  • threats to national security, particularly terrorism
  • criminality within or involving a charity
  • sham charities set up for an illegal or improper purpose
  • charities deliberately being used for significant private advantage
  • where a charity's independence is seriously called into question
  • serious non-compliance in a charity that damages or has the potential to damage its reputation and/or the reputation of charities generally
  • serious non-compliance in a charity which, left unchecked, could damage public trust and confidence in the Charity Commission as an effective regulator

People are free to complain to the Charity Commission at any time about FMA UK’s charitable activities. However, FMA UK would prefer the opportunity to resolve issues with the complainant beforehand, as many complaints can be resolved without the need to involve the Charity Commission

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