ICF Complaints Procedure

Aims and objectives of the policy

This complaints policy aims to:
• Encourage the resolution of problems by informal means wherever possible;
• Ensure that concerns are dealt with quickly, fully, transparently and fairly and within clearly
defined time limits;
• Provide effective responses and appropriate redress;
• Maintain good working relationships between all people involved with the Innovation Challenge Fund

What is a complaint?

A complaint is any concern relating to the SNG Innovation Challenge Fund (ICF) which cannot be resolved via ordinary communication with SNG.

Who is this policy for?

This policy is for beneficiaries of the ICF, grant candidates or grant recipients who have a concern or complaint about any aspect of the ICF. Consideration will also be given to complaints made by actors not listed above, and a determination made as to how to address such a complaint.

Publication and communication

This policy will be available on the SNG ICF website, as well as in the terms and conditions signed by grant applicants, and part of the ICF User Manual.

Links with other policies and procedures

OPM Whistleblowing

Resolving issues and concerns

In the first instance, stakeholders of the SNG ICF who have a concern or complaint are encouraged to write to [email protected] (for KP related concerns) and to [email protected] sng.org (for Punjab related concerns) to see if their issue can be resolved without recourse to a formal complaints process. Emails to this address will be responded to within 5 working days.

Stakeholders who write to this address should explain the nature of their concern, provide any context, as well as their contact details. The SNG team will engage with the stakeholder and seek to resolve their issue as quickly and smoothly as possible. The response will be finalised with approval from SMT.

Procedures for handling complaints

If a stakeholder feels that their concern has not been resolved via communication with SNG, they may submit a complaint, through the [email protected] The Complaints procedure of the ICF follows the following summary steps:

  1. A complainant submits a complaint via email to the ICF on email above
  2. The complaint is acknowledged within 5 working days, providing a reference number
  3. The complaint is reviewed by the SNGII team, who may request more information from thecomplainant
  4. The complaint is investigated by a separate team from SNGII within 25 working days of theoriginal complaint
  5. The SNGII team will decide whether or not to uphold the complaint. SNGII will communicatethe decision to the complainant within 30 working days of the original complaint.

All complaints and outcomes are reported to the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.

Step 1 Submitting a complaint

Anyone wishing to submit a complaint about the ICF should write to [email protected] sng.org

When they submit their complaint, they must ensure they include the following information:

  1. What is the complaint about?
  2. Any relevant dates
  3. Attach any relevant supporting information, evidence or documents
  4. Relevant name and contact details

If a complainant wishes to make an anonymous complaint, or is concerned about confidentiality or fraud, they may also refer to the OPM Whistleblowing Policy.

Step 2 Acknowledgement

The complainant will receive an email acknowledging their complaint and providing them with a unique reference number which should be used in all future correspondence.

This acknowledgement will be sent within 5 working days of the original complaint.

Step 3 Review

The SNGII team will review the complaint and information provided and determine whether there is sufficient information to conduct an investigation. If necessary, they will contact the complainant to request clarification or further information. The decision to proceed to an investigation will be approved by SNG’s Senior Management Team (SMT). The investigation team will also be appointed by the SMT. If a complaint was made anonymously, they will make a determination, subject to approval by the SMT, as to whether they are able to investigate.

Step 4 Investigation

The SNGII team will need to investigate the complaint and review any relevant documentation and information. If necessary, the team will speak to relevant parties to look into the matter.

The investigation should be completed no later than 25 working days after the date the original complaint was acknowledged. In complex cases the SNG team may inform the complainant of a longer timeline where necessary, where additional time shall not exceed 25 working days.

Step 5 Decision and Communication

Once their investigation is complete, the investigating team will make a recommendation to the SMT as to whether or not to uphold the complaint. The SMT will review this recommendation and make a decision.

The SNGII team will then communicate this decision to the complainant in a full written response. This will normally be received within 30 working days of the acknowledgement of the complaint. In complex cases the SNG team may inform the complainant of a longer timeline where necessary.

The response will explain whether or not the complaint has been upheld, the reasons why, and what action (if any) will be taken. The response will provide details of what other steps remain open to them if they are not satisfied with the conclusion offered. A final report will also be shared with UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.

Additional information

Confidentiality

All conversations and correspondence will be treated confidentially. Personal information will only be shared between SNGII staff on a ‘need to know’ basis. Confidentiality will be maintained within the ICF Team and SMT, and between the investigating team and the complainant.

Changes to time limits and deadlines

In general, the time limits and deadlines contained within this policy should be adhered to by the SNGII team. However, in certain circumstances it may be inappropriate or impractical, for example, if an investigation cannot be conducted due to extenuating circumstances or for complex cases. Similarly, if a complaint leads to a referral to relevant authorities in the UK or Pakistan, it is likely this will cause a delay in SNGII being able to investigate. If and when it becomes necessary to alter the time limits and deadlines set out within this policy, the complainant will be told and given an explanation as to why this has been the case.

Circumstances under which this procedure should not be used

Issues related to whistleblowing, criminal investigations and employee grievances must all be dealt with separately from this policy.

Persistent or vexatious complaints

Where a complainant tries to re-open the issue after the complaints procedure has been fully exhausted, the SMT (or other appropriate person) will inform the complainant that the matter is closed. If the complainant subsequently contacts SNGII again about the same issue, the programme can choose not to respond. The normal circumstance in which it will not respond is if:

  • SNGII has taken every reasonable step to address the complainant’s needs, and
  • The complainant has been given a clear statement of the outcome of the complaints process andtheir options (if any), and
  • The complainant is contacting SNGII repeatedly but making substantially the same points
  • It has reason to believe the individual is contacting SNGII with the intention of causing disruptionor inconvenience, and/or
  • The individual’s letters/emails/telephone calls are often or always abusive or aggressive, and/or
  • The individual makes insulting personal comments about, or threats towards staff
  • Unreasonable behaviour which is abusive, offensive or threatening may constitute anunreasonably persistent complaint.Once SNGII has decided that it is appropriate to stop responding, the complainant will be informed in writing, either by letter or email.

Record-keeping

SNG will record the progress of all complaints, including information about actions taken at all formal stages, the stage at which the complaint was resolved, and the final outcome. The records will also include copies of letters and emails, and notes relating to meetings and phone calls.

This material will be treated as strictly confidential and held centrally. This is except where the relevant and mandated authorities may request access to records or where such records may be disclosed under the terms of the relevant legislation. Records will be kept for the duration of SNGII.

Learning lessons

The SMT will review any underlying issues raised by complaints, where appropriate, and respecting confidentiality, to determine whether there are any improvements that SNGII can make to its procedures or practice to help prevent similar events in the future.

Monitoring and transparency

The SMT will monitor the effectiveness of the complaints procedure in ensuring that complaints are handled properly.