How to bring a complaint to the Independent Case Examiner

The Independent Case Examiner reviews complaints about certain government organisations that deal with benefits, work and financial support.



As you will be aware from media coverage, the circumstances in which we find ourselves in relation to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is exceptional and is having a severe impact on public services nationwide. We are no different and as staffing levels are affected, I am sure you will understand that we have to direct our remaining resources to where they are needed most.

Consequently, we need to make you aware that it may take longer than we would like to progress your complaint or answer any enquiries you have made of us. Thank you in advance for your patience.

This guidance explains how the Independent Case Examiner (ICE) acts as an impartial referee for people who:

  • feel they have been treated unfairly
  • are unhappy with the way their complaint has been dealt with

This is a free service.

Please don’t contact us until you get a final response from the government agency or business that says you can bring your case to us.

Budgeting Loans

See our separate guidance on how to ask for a further, independent review of a Budgeting Loan

Published 1 February 2013
Last updated 17 July 2020 + show all updates
  1. Added details about adjustments to the 'The information we need' section.

  2. Updated section 6 'How we deal with your complaint' to clarify what happens after ICE receives a complaint.

  3. Amended 'How to bring a complaint to the Independent Case Examiner' section 6.1. Resolution and fixed broken links in the PDF version.

  4. Updated HTML and PDF guidance to reflect changes to procedures in paragraphs 1, 2, 5, 6 and sub-paragraphs, 8 and sub-paragraphs and deleted 9 - Professional fees.

  5. Updated the list of organisations that ICE deals with (part 1). Explained that you need to provide written consent if you want a representative to act on your behalf (part 4). Added guidance about corresponding by email securely (part 4.1).

  6. Added Pension Wise to the list of organisations ICE deals with. Clarified the order in which ICE deals with cases in section 6.2 'If you and the agency or business can’t agree'.

  7. Added "We deal with post received after 12 noon on the next working day." (section 4).

  8. Changed the time for completing action on "can't agree" cases to within 15 weeks of allocation to an investigation case manager, or within 20 weeks if the case requires a report from the Independent Case Examiner (paragraph 6.2).

  9. Added "If you want us to return any documents you send us, please tell us when you send them" to the guidance.

  10. Updated opening hours – 8am to 6pm.

  11. Updated HTML and PDF guidance to reflect changes to procedures and timings (mainly in paragraphs 6, 6.1 and 6.2).

  12. Added "Fit for Work (the government-funded advice service)" to the list of organisations ICE deals with.

  13. Updated guidance to stress the importance of having a FINAL response that mentions ICE before contacting ICE.

  14. First published.