Complaints policy

Every year the Citizens Advice service helps millions of people with their problems. Each Citizens Advice Bureau is an independent charity and part of the Citizens Advice network in Scotland.

Citizens Advice Scotland is the umbrella organisation that provides support to bureaux, including training, policy and IT.

If you are not satisfied with any aspect of the service you’ve received, you can make a complaint.

We welcome complaints and feedback because it helps us to improve the quality of the service.

How to make a complaint

To make sure that all complaints are handled efficiently and fairly, there is a complaints procedure that must be followed.

Misunderstandings can often be sorted out on an informal basis. Tell the bureau or Citizens Advice Scotland that you are unhappy and you want to complain so that they can try to put things right.

You should first raise your complaint with either:

  • the Citizens Advice Bureau
  • Citizens Advice Scotland - if your complaint is about a national helpline.

Your complaint will be treated seriously and in confidence.

Make a complaint about a Citizens Advice Bureau

If the issue is about a Citizens Advice Bureau, you should contact the manager or Chair of the bureau. You can do this in person, by phone or in writing.

You can find the contact details for the bureau by searching the postcode.  

Your complaint will be investigated by the bureau manager under the direction of the Chair of the bureau, or by the Chair if you are complaining about the manager. If it is upheld, you will get an apology and, where appropriate, be given details of any action that the bureau is taking to put things right.

The bureau will aim to respond in full to your complaint in 20 working days. However, if the issue is complicated, it may take longer. You will be kept informed of the progress of your complaint. 

If you are not happy with the bureau manager’s response, you can request a review by the Chair. 

Make a complaint to Citizens Advice Scotland 

If the issue relates to Citizens Advice Scotland or one of the national helplines, you can:

  • write to Citizens Advice Scotland, 2 Powderhall Road, Edinburgh, EH7 4GB  
  • email

If the issue relates to Scotland’s Migration Service, you should contact Citizens Advice Scotland by email to

If you had an appointment with an adviser, your complaint will be sent to the Citizens Advice Bureau that your appointment was with.

Review of your complaint

If you are still not happy after the response, you can request a further review. You will be provided with details on how to do this. 

This review will be conducted under the direction of the Citizens Advice Scotland Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The review will consider how your complaint was handled and whether the complaints process has been followed. A further investigation of the facts of your complaint will not be carried out.

If the complaints process has not been properly followed, you will get an apology and may be given details of any action that is being taken to put things right.  If your complaint is not upheld by Citizens Advice Scotland and you are still not happy, you can ask for your complaint to be looked at by an independent arbiter.

Review by an independent arbiter

If your complaint is not upheld and you are not satisfied and want to progress further, you must write to the CEO within two calendar months from the date of receipt of Citizens Advice Scotland’s response to the complaint. The CEO will write to an appropriate independent arbiter who is separate from the Citizens Advice service. You will be notified accordingly. 

The arbiter will be asked to review the Association’s handling of the complaint and whether the final decision was fair.

The full report of the independent arbiter will be sent to Citizens Advice Scotland and the arbiter will notify you of their decision. The arbiter’s decision is final.

Financial Ombudsman Service

The Financial Ombudsman Service provides a free, independent service for clients to solve disputes with not for profit debt advice providers.

The Financial Ombudsman Service will only look at your complaint after the bureau has had the opportunity to investigate matters, so please contact the bureau first. 

If your complaint is about debt advice or if you were seeking advice about your credit record and you are not satisfied with the bureau’s final response or if eight weeks have passed since you first let the bureau know about your concerns, you can ask the Financial Ombudsman to review your complaint. 

Contact the Financial Ombudsman Service

By post:
The Financial Ombudsman Service
Exchange Tower
London E14 9SR

By phone:
0800 023 4567 – free from a fixed line, like a landline at home
0300 123 9 123 – free for mobile phone users who pay a monthly charge for calls to numbers starting 01 and 02.

Find out more on the Financial Ombudsman Service website.

Third party complaints

If you have a complaint about a Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) but you are not a client, you should raise your complaint with the manager of the bureau. Wherever possible, put all the information in a letter or email and send it to the CAB manager. Where a complaint is about a CAB manager, you should raise it with the Chair of the CAB.