This voluntary code applies to all customers of the Valuation Office Agency (VOA). It is supported by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs’ Code of Practice on complaints. This code does not apply:
- to public bodies including local authorities
- to organisations where there is a separate service partnership agreement or contract in place
- where the valuation service has been provided under contract from another organisation, such as a local authority or housing association. In such circumstances, we will direct you to their complaints procedure.
If an agent or representative is making a complaint on your behalf, we’ll need a letter of authority from you before we will investigate that complaint.
1. Our commitment to you and your responsibilities
We aim to provide a high standard of service in a way that gives you confidence in our services. Our code is supported by the VOA charter and our own complaints procedure.
If you have a complaint you should set it out in writing, to avoid any misunderstanding, and send it by letter or email. If this is not possible then you can contact us by telephone.
We will investigate complaints about unreasonable delay, poor handling of your case, inappropriate conduct and other aspects of our service.
We do not normally look into valuation matters, such as council tax banding decisions, rating assessments or a Rent Officer’s determination. Our complaints procedure is for complaints about the standard of our service and is not an opportunity to appeal against the outcome.
We’ll not consider complaints where the valuation has been provided under contract with another organisation.
In dealing with a complaint, we do not expect our staff to tolerate behaviour by customers which is clearly unacceptable (for example - abusive, offensive or threatening) and may take action to protect our staff from that behaviour.
We expect you to take all reasonable steps to minimise or mitigate the effect of any errors:
- by checking carefully any factual information that we provide you about your property
- by contacting us promptly where you believe the information we have is inaccurate
- by acting promptly if you believe our decision is wrong so that you can formally challenge it where the law allows
However, we need your help to maintain our high standards and we welcome your comments, whether they are suggestions, compliments or complaints, so we can continue to improve.
2. We want to work with you
If you have any concerns regarding the way we have dealt with your affairs, please contact the person you have been dealing with. Most concerns can be resolved this way without the need to make a complaint.
If you do wish to complain, please follow our complaints procedure.
When dealing with your complaint we will adhere to the following standards:
- acknowledge receipt of your complaint within 3 working days
- provide you with a point of contact throughout the course of the complaint
- deal with most complaints within 20 working days (However, in complex cases we may take longer if we need to carry out further research or if we are experiencing high volumes of work)
- let you know if we will be unable to provide a full reply within 20 working days and keep you informed of progress
- treat your complaint seriously and keep it confidential
- deal with your concerns in an impartial, professional and courteous way
- avoid jargon
- get our facts right
- not discriminate against you on the grounds of:
- disability or any other unlawful reason
We’ll also tell you if we can’t resolve your complaint if we no longer hold records on the matter.
3. Putting things right
After we have investigated your complaint we’ll:
- contact you, usually by letter or email, but by telephone if you prefer
- say sorry where appropriate
- explain what went wrong and why
- correct the mistake as far as the law allows
- tell you what steps we will take towards preventing the mistake from happening again
- identify areas where we can improve our service
4. Your costs
We will not reimburse your normal costs of dealing with the VOA (which includes making a formal challenge, or ‘proposal’, against a rating or council tax assessment, making a request for a Housing Benefit redetermination or challenging a registration of Fair Rent). For example, costs of your travel to and from a tribunal hearing and/or your representative’s fees would not be reimbursed.
We will consider claims for losses that have been incurred only as a direct result of a mistake or unreasonable delay.
Before we consider any claims for costs we expect you to have taken reasonable steps to minimise any losses, including having formally challenged any valuation or banding within any relevant legal time limits. If you do not do so and incur avoidable or excessive costs, we will only reimburse what we would consider to be reasonable.
Costs we might consider paying could include postage, telephone calls, general travelling costs and other reasonable actual out of pocket expenses directly and unavoidably incurred as a result of our mistake or unreasonable delay.
We may need to see evidence of your costs, or ask you for more information, including receipts and receipted invoices.
5. Worry and distress
On occasions we may accept that our mistakes or delays might have caused you a great deal of inconvenience or irritation. In exceptional circumstances we may be able to make an additional token payment to acknowledge and apologise for this.
6. Poor complaint handling
If we handle your complaint poorly, or take an unreasonable time to deal with it, we may make a token payment.
There are 2 tiers to VOA’s internal complaints procedure. If you wish to make a formal complaint a Complaints Investigation Manager will deal with your complaint at tier one. If your complaint cannot be resolved at tier onw, you can ask for it to be reviewed at tier two.
Tier one: a Complaints Investigation Manager will deal with your complaint. You can find out how to contact the relevant person by telephone on:
Telephone (England) 03000 501501
Telephone (Wales) 03000 505505
Opening hours: Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5:00pm. Closed on bank holidays.
Find out about call charges: https://www.gov.uk/call-charges
or by email on: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tier two: You can contact the team in writing:
Complaints Investigation Team
Valuation Office Agency Complaints Investigation Team
10 South Colonnade
Telephone 03000 500 471