DfT: independent complaints assessors

Independent complaints assessors review complaints made against the Department for Transport and its agencies and other bodies.

If you think:

  • you’ve been treated unfairly by the Department for Transport (DfT) or one of its agencies or bodies
  • have received poor service from DfT or one of its agencies or bodies

you can ask for an independent complaints assessor (ICA) to review your complaint.

The department uses the services of independent complaints assessors, who are part-time and are not civil servants. They look at the issues, provide conclusions and recommend solutions. This is a free, independent and impartial service.

If you want to complain your first step should always be to go to the department or the agency or body itself. ICAs are there to review the way that the department or agency handled your complaint following their final response.

How ICAs work

An ICA looks at whether DfT or its agency or other body has:

  • provided you with a reasonable service
  • handled your complaint appropriately

The ICA will need to see the letters and emails between you and DfT, or the agency or body you’re complaining about. The part of DfT involved aims to send this material to the ICA within 15 working days of you asking us to pass your complaint to them.

The ICA will decide how best to deal with your case and will then contact you direct. The ICA will usually contact you by email or post. They may want to speak to you by telephone to check facts.

It’s important you let us know if you change address or email or have a new phone number whilst your complaint is with an ICA.

When the ICA has reviewed your complaint, they will write to you with details of what they’ve decided. Their letter will explain what to do if you have any further concerns.

The ICA will aim to review your case within 3 months. They’ll tell you if they expect it to take longer.

What they can look at

The ICA can look at complaints about:

  • bias or discrimination
  • unfair treatment
  • poor or misleading advice
  • failure to give information
  • mistakes
  • unreasonable delays
  • poor administration
  • inappropriate staff behaviour

What they cannot look at

An ICA cannot look at complaints about:

  • legislation
  • government, departmental or agency policy
  • matters where only a court, tribunal or other body can decide the outcome
  • legal proceedings that have already started and will decide the outcome
  • an ongoing investigation or enquiry
  • personnel and disciplinary decisions or actions as an employer

An ICA can’t review your complaint if it’s being or has been investigated by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. They can’t usually look at any complaint that:

  • hasn’t completed all stages of an organisation’s complaints process
  • is more than 3 months old from the date of the final response from the department or agency

How to contact the independent complaints assessor

We don’t provide general contact information for ICAs. It’s important to go through DfT, or the agency or body you have been dealing with so they can try to resolve the matter first.

If you are unhappy with our final response to your complaint you can tell us that you want an ICA to review your complaint. Once the ICA has received your details they will contact you to advise you whether they think they’re able to review your complaint. They’ll provide you with their contact details, and ask you for any further information they need.

Which parts of DfT do ICAs cover?

You can find out more about the complaints procedures of DfT, our agencies and delivery bodies which are currently covered by the ICA:

Data protection

Each part of DfT has its own separate complaints handling process as deemed appropriate, including data retention policy.

The personal data and other information you provide to the relevant part of DfT (eg DVLA, DVSA), or to a DfT delivery body (eg HS2 Ltd, Highways England Ltd), will be passed to the DfT ICA and will be used only in order to review your complaint.

The DfT ICAs will only hold your data for up to 2 years following the completion of their review. This is in order to respond to any requests from the Parliamentary Ombudsman, acting on your behalf should you request them to investigate how the ICA has handled your complaint.

DfT ICAs are subject to the DfT’s privacy policy. Find out more about DfT’ privacy policy, including how to contact the Data Protection Officer and exercise your rights.


The ICA is committed to providing the best possible service to complainants. We welcome your feedback.

Annual reports

The reports summarise the complaints reviewed and recommendations made by the Independent Complaint Assessors.

Published 2 July 2014
Last updated 17 September 2020 + show all updates
  1. Added 2019 to 2020 annual report.

  2. Acceptable compliant period changed from 6 to 3 months.

  3. DfT Independent Complaints Assessor report for 2018 to 2019.

  4. 2017 to 2018 report added.

  5. DfT Independent Complaints Assessor report for 2016 to 2017.

  6. Independent Complaints Assessor report for 2015 to 2016.

  7. Added new Independent Complaints Assessor report for 2014 to 2015

  8. First published.