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Complaints procedure

Commitment to information access

BBSRC is committed to providing a high quality, responsive and accessible service to all the people and organisations with which it interacts. The Council vigorously pursues its service standards, in compliance with its Service First Statement, Freedom of Information Act (2000), Environmental Information Regulations (2004), Data Protection Act (1998), and the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998.

Complaints about BBSRC

BBSRC is committed to high standards of service in all their operations as stated above. Despite this we recognise that things can sometimes go wrong and we want you to have the opportunity to raise any problems or complaints with us. Any complaint will be taken seriously and treated in the strictest confidence.

Reasons for complaints

A complaint may relate to:

  • Failure to follow stated policies or processes
  • Inappropriate or insensitive attitude by staff
  • Failure to follow the Council’s legal obligations

A complaint will not be considered when:

  • Matters are subject to legal proceedings or litigation
  • Disagreeing with a funding decision based on academic/scientific judgement
  • Complaints relating to decision by Research Organisations
  • Stated policies and processes have been followed
  • The matter has been considered appropriately under the complaints policy and closed

Where a complaint is related to Research Conduct, please refer to the RCUK Policy and Guidelines on Governance of Good Research Conduct (PDF), which provides detailed guidance.

In order to allow a complete review of any complaint, we request that any complaint is submitted within 6 months of the issue/problem.

How to register a complaint with BBSRC

In the first instance we ask you to try to resolve your complaint directly with the BBSRC Officer dealing with the issue. If the matter is not resolved and you wish to escalate your complaint please contact BBSRC Complaints Officer.

The complaint must be made in writing, by either email or letter. Any telephone complaints will need to be followed up in written form to be formally investigated.

Information to include in complaint

In order for the BBSRC to investigate the complaint in a timely and effective manner we request that the following information is provided:

  • Full contact details of complainant
  • The Section/Team within the BBSRC and the name of the BBSRC officer (if known) dealing with the issue
  • A clear description of the complaint
  • Desired outcome of complaint, if appropriate

The complaint will be acknowledged within 5 working days with a full response made within 20 working days thereafter. If a full response is not possible within this time we will provide details of progress made and a target date for resolution or further point of contact.


The following standards will be applied when considering any complaint:

  • Treated in confidence and within current information legislation (including Data Protection Act 1998 and Freedom of Information Act 2000)
  • Handled fairly, sensitively and respectfully
  • Treated in a competent and timely manner

Any whistleblowing complaints received will be handled in line with the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998. Please see RCUK Whistleblowing Policy (PDF)


If you are not satisfied with the outcome of your complaint you may appeal in writing against the outcome. The appeal should set out the basis for the appeal and be sent to the BBSRC Chief Executive within 10 working days of receiving notification of the outcome of the investigation. The Chief Executive will assign someone who was not involved in your original complaint to look at your appeal. The outcome of the appeal will be provided within 20 working days. Please note that any appeal investigation will be based on the way that your complaint was handled against stated BBSRC Complaints Procedures and will not be a new investigation into your original complaint.

Still not satisfied?

If you have gone through each stage of our complaints procedure and remain dissatisfied with the outcome, you have the right to refer the matter to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration (the Ombudsman).  You will have to make your complaint to the Ombudsman through your local Member of Parliament, whose address can be obtained from the Citizens' Advice Bureau, or the offices of your local authority.

Freedom of Information

If you are dissatisfied with the processing or outcome of a request for information under Freedom of Information Act (2000), Environmental Information Regulations (2004) or Data Protection Act (1998) you should register a formal complaint with the BBSRC Complaints Officer.

If you are not satisfied with the handling of an appeal or complaint associated with the processing of an information request under the Freedom of Information Act or Data Protection Act, you can refer the matter to the Information Commissioner, the independent body who oversees this legislation.

Other circumstances

There may be a situation where others seem to have failed to follow agreed procedures or to have acted improperly, where the outcome may have relevance to BBSRC. In these circumstances employees are protected under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, and complaints of this nature must be directed to the employing institution, or if constituted, the independent body or person appointed to deal with complaints of malpractice. Once the procedures at the employing institution have been exhausted you may inform BBSRC through the Complaints Officer, but BBSRC will not be able to initiate an inquiry on your behalf. We will, however, ensure that all stated procedures have been followed.

The above deals with complaints from non-BBSRC employees. BBSRC employees should refer to the employment code.

Note: The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 may protect employees and certain other types of worker to enable them to disclose wrongdoing by their employer. Further information is available on the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills website.