Complaints Policy and Procedure

Statement of Policy

The purpose of the Social Workers’ Education Trust (SWET) is to respond to requests for assistance by making appropriate grants, and by managing its financial resources to the best advantage for present and future beneficiaries. All activities are carried out by a Board of unpaid trustees, who obtain specialist advice when necessary.

The SWET will consider any complaint into the way it carries out its responsibilities however, the trustees’ legal responsibility as a body to make or not make grants cannot be transferred to any other body or individual. While it is open to the trustees to change their decision in the light of complaints and investigations made, they remain responsible for the allocation of funds.


Definition of a complaint

A complaint can be said to exist when any person having dealings with SWET is dissatisfied with a response given, or any action or decision taken in connection with their business with SWET, and wishes to take the matter further.



At every stage, the complainant will be treated with courtesy and respect.

They will be kept informed of what is happening and will be given reasons for any decision made.


Stage One

Any person affected by a response, decision or action of SWET will be invited to submit their complaint in writing to the Chair, who will acknowledge receipt within 5 working days.

If the aggrieved person declines to make a written complaint, the Chair will report the matter to the next trustees’ meeting which will take whatever action it deems appropriate.

The Chair will consider the matters raised in the written complaint, consult with colleagues as (s)he sees fit and issue a fuller response to the complainant ideally within 20 working days of receipt of the original complaint. This response will either be (a) to confirm the original decision or (b) to submit the matter to the next trustees’ meeting.

The Chair will ensure that at least one trustee who was not part of the original decision complained about, takes no part in considering the matter at issue at this stage. (Should any meeting be attended by every trustee, the Chair will ensure that at least one trustee leaves the room for the consideration of every application, thus ensuring that a trustee is available under this procedure who has not participated in the decision-making process.)


Stage Two

If the complainant remains dissatisfied, after the outcome of (a) or (b) above, the matter will be investigated by a trustee not involved in any decisions so far. This person will interview whomsoever they see fit and produce a report and recommendations, ideally within 25 working days of their appointment. This report and recommendations will be considered by the Board of Trustees at the earliest available opportunity and a decision be communicated to the complainant.


Stage Three

If the complainant remains dissatisfied, the SWET will refer the matter to the appeals panel of the Social Workers Benevolent Trust, with whom it has a reciprocal agreement. This panel will convene a meeting within 30 days of receiving the referral. The complainant has the right to present their case and to be accompanied by a person of their choice. A maximum of two people representing the SWET will have the right to present its case. The panel will decide either

  • that the complaint is upheld and the matter referred back to the Trustees for further consideration, or
  • that the complaint is not upheld.

There is no appeal from this decision.

The Trustees will subsequently notify the complainant of the outcome of stage 3 and of their final decision at the earliest opportunity.

The whole process will be concluded within a maximum period of six months from receipt of the initial complaint.


The role of the Charity Commission

The Charity Commission is the statutory regulatory body set up to ensure that charities maintain public trust and confidence. It will generally only intervene when there is some grave, general risk of significant harm or abuse to the charity, its assets, beneficiaries or reputation, where the use of its powers of intervention is necessary to protect them and where this represents a proportionate response to the issues in this case, for example when there is evidence that trustees are acting in significant breach of the provisions of the charity’s governing document or of charity or trust law.


Reviewed June 2017