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1. Valuation Office Agency Code of Practice for Complaints and Complaint Procedures
Updated 22 September 2022
The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) welcomes and values feedback about our service. We take all complaints very seriously and the feedback from customers helps us to consider where we might need to make changes or improvements.
This voluntary code applies to customers of the Valuation Office Agency (VOA). As an agency of His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), our complaint handling is aligned with HMRC’s Complaints and Remedy Guidance. Our code is supported by the VOA charter.
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 we provided a valuation or valuation advice under contract to another organisation or public body. In these circumstances, the third-party customer may need to contact that client organisation or body direct in the first instance
Our complaints procedure is for complaints about the standard of our service and is not an opportunity to challenge a valuation decision. Valuation disputes, such as concerns about a council tax banding decision, rating assessment or a Rent Officer’s determination cannot be considered.
1.1 The types of complaints we can consider
If you think we:
- provided a poor service
- made administrative errors including unreasonable delays, mistakes and poor or misleading advice
- did not apply policy and guidance fairly and consistently
- have not acted in accordance with our Charter or Code of Practice
1.2 Our commitment to you and your responsibilities
We aim to:
- treat your complaint seriously
- ensure we fully understand your concerns about the service you received
- deal with your complaint in a fair, professional and courteous way
- investigate thoroughly and fairly, reaching conclusions based on facts
- avoid jargon in our replies and explain our decisions clearly
- put things right
- look after your information
- learn from outcomes
- not discriminate against you on any grounds
We expect you to take all reasonable steps to minimise or mitigate the effect of any errors by:
- checking carefully the factual information we hold about your property
- contacting us promptly to update information we hold about your property
- acting promptly if you believe a valuation decision is wrong, and formally challenge it where the law allows
We will not:
- tolerate unacceptable behaviour from customers (e.g. abusive, offensive or threatening) and may take action to protect our staff from that behaviour.
Persistent or vexatious complaints are rare, but can place a strain on time and resources, hinder consideration of other customers’ cases, and can be stressful for staff who deal with them. We will take action to limit, or in the most extreme cases terminate, contact with us in these cases.
1.3 Making a Complaint
If you have any concerns about our service, the quickest way to resolve them is to contact the person or team you have been dealing with. Most concerns can be resolved quickly without the need to make a formal complaint.
If you do wish to complain, there are 2 tiers to our internal complaints’ procedure. If you make a formal complaint an Investigation Manager will deal with your complaint at tier 1. If you remain dissatisfied, your complaint will be escalated to tier 2 and a different Investigation Manager.
If a representative contacts us, we require the appropriate authority from the customer for them to be able to make a complaint on your behalf. Correspondence will be sent to both the customer and representative.
1.4 Putting things right
After we have investigated your concerns we will:
- say sorry where appropriate
- explain what went wrong and why
- correct any mistake, as far as the law allows
- tell you what steps we will take to prevent similar issues happening
- learn from complaints and identify areas where we can improve our service
1.5 Your costs
We do not usually reimburse the normal costs of dealing with us, including making a formal challenge against a valuation assessment. This includes, for example: postal costs, costs to travel to and from a tribunal hearing, and/or a representative’s fees.
We will consider claims for reasonable costs, losses or expenses 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 a valuation decision within the relevant legal time limits. If you do not, and incur avoidable or excessive costs, we may only consider what might be reasonable.
For some losses, we will ask for copies of receipts and/or receipted invoices.
1.6 Worry, distress and poor complaint handling
We may conclude our mistakes or delays also caused you inconvenience or irritation, or we may conclude we handled your complaint poorly or took an unreasonable amount of time to deal with it. In exceptional circumstances we may make a token payment to acknowledge and apologise in these cases.
1.7 Complaints Procedure
If you have a complaint you can set it out in writing or contact us by telephone.
We also have a referral form to help you provide the necessary information, which includes the prompts below. Please provide as much detail as possible to help us find the information relevant to your case. This includes:
- your name, contact address and telephone number (and property address if different)
- details about your dissatisfaction with our service – what happened and what you believe went wrong
- any case reference numbers, details of who you dealt with your case and copies of any correspondence
- how the issue affected you
- what you would like to happen as a result of a complaint
- any accessibility requirements we should be aware of (e.g. large print)
If you remain dissatisfied after our tier 1 reply, please let us know which aspects you remain dissatisfied about, and what you would like to happen as a result of escalating your complaint to tier 2.
As set out above, valuation disputes are not within our remit. This is because there are statutory challenge processes in place, including appeals to the independent Valuation Tribunal about business rates assessments and council tax bandings.
1.8 Contacting the Complaints Investigation Team
Please send your complaint by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you need any help making a complaint, you may also telephone 03000 501501.
Please note, this email address is not for any other enquiries and should only be used for complaints about our service. Other general enquiries can be made on the VOA Contact Form.
1.9 Handling your complaint
- acknowledge receipt within 3 working days
- provide a case reference number, should you wish to contact us
- aim to deal with most complaints within 20 working days. Some cases may take longer if they are complex or we are experiencing high volumes of work
- advise you if we are unable to reply within 20 working days and update you on progress
- contact you, usually in writing, but by telephone if you prefer
- advise you about any next steps or options available to you
1.10 Escalation of Complaints after VOA consideration
If you remain dissatisfied after our response at tier 2, you can ask the Adjudicator to consider your concerns. The Adjudicator is a fair and unbiased referee whose recommendations are independent.
For the same reasons mentioned above, valuation decision disputes are not within the Adjudicator’s remit. Details about the role of the Adjudicator and how to make a complaint can be found here.
You can contact the Adjudicator’s Office via their online service.
Should you remain dissatisfied with the Adjudicator’s decision, you can contact your MP to ask them to refer your complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.
The Ombudsman expects a complaint to have been considered by the VOA and the Adjudicator before they will consider your case.
1.11 Reporting serious misconduct
In exceptional circumstances, should you have a complaint about any alleged misconduct by personnel involving criminal or near criminal behaviour, please contact the VOA as detailed above.