COVID-19 update

Our office is currently not open to visitors. We are responding to emails and are operating a limited telephone service for complaints related enquiries. Our Scottish Welfare Fund review service is available by telephone as normal. Please read our information for customers and organisations.


In 2020-21 we received 3,130 complaints - a 28% decrease on the 4,332 received in the previous year. The first few months of the year saw a marked reduction in the volume of cases received into the office; nearly half the number of cases we received at the same point in 2019-20. This can likely be attributed to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and the disruption to public services as a result of national lockdowns. As Scottish public bodies adjusted to the situation, the number of complaints received rose steadily. At quarter 4 complaint numbers were nearly at the same level as the previous year.

Other key figures 

  • 676 - the number of enquiries received on which we gave advice, support and signposting information. This is a 57% decrease on the 1,569 received in the previous year - likely due to the reduced availability of our telephone advice service during the pandemic.
  • 3,176 – the total number of complaints determined, which is a decrease of 23% on 4,099 in the previous year.
    • 2,756 complaints were decided following detailed initial consideration. These were not progressed beyond initial enquiries for a number of reasons. For example, they were out of our jurisdiction, out of time or we could not achieve more for the complainant.
    • 420 - the number of complaints we investigated. 71% of which were about the health sector. This proportion is up from 66% last year.
  • 61% - the overall rate of upheld complaints. Up from 58% last year.
  • 740 recommendations made for redress and improvement to public service:
    • 37% for personal redress - down from 38% in the previous year
    • 52% for learning and improvement - up from 49% in the previous year
    • 11% about complaint handling - down from 13% in the previous year.
  • 267 pieces of feedback given to authorities on how a complaint was handled or where we identify an issue not complained about.
  • 20% - the proportion of complaints made to us before completing the organisation's complaints procedure. Up from 19% the previous year. For further information about the descriptions we use in our statistics, please see our explanation of terms.

Further information is available in our Annual Report and Accounts 2020-21.

Updated: May 11, 2022