The PSAA Board is responsible for approving, publishing and maintaining a complaints procedure. The Chief Officer reports annually to the Board about the nature and number of complaints and about the company’s handling of complaints.
We aim to achieve the highest standards and take all complaints seriously, so we need to know if you are concerned or dissatisfied with our work or that of our appointed auditors.
We aim to communicate with people clearly and politely and will ensure that we contact you in the way that you prefer, be it by letter, email, or telephone.
Complaints that we can consider
We can consider complaints:
- that relate to a failure in service or maladministration by one of our firms of appointed auditors;
- about the way in which your concern or query has been dealt with by a member of staff at PSAA; and
- about the way in which your concern or query has been dealt with by a PSAA Board member.
Complaints that we cannot consider
PSAA cannot consider complaints about:
- the judgements and decisions of auditors;
- the processes followed by auditors of local authorities who are exercising their specific powers in relation to electors’ objections to items in a council’s accounts, as this is a matter for the courts; and
- audited bodies, as these must be raised with the body concerned.
If you have any queries about whether we can or cannot deal with a specific complaint, please contact us via email at [email protected].
Making a complaint
If you wish to make a complaint, you can do so by emailing us at [email protected].
You can also write to us at:
18 Smith Square
The complaints process
Complaints about auditors
PSAA is responsible for monitoring the performance of the firms within its audit regime, but the firms themselves remain responsible for the work and behaviour of their staff.
Firms are required to report any complaints to PSAA as part of the contract monitoring process.
Each firm already has its own complaints process and complaints about auditors should be dealt with under those processes, independently of PSAA. Therefore, as and when PSAA receives a complaint that has not already been investigated by the relevant firm, it will be passed to the firm’s contact partner to deal with in the first instance.
The complaint should be progressed through all stages of the firm’s own complaints process, until either a satisfactory resolution is found, or it is clear that the firm will be unable to resolve matters.
If the firm is unable to resolve matters, it should refer the complainant to PSAA.
Because appointed auditors are statutorily independent of PSAA, PSAA cannot:
- interfere with an appointed auditor’s exercise of his or her professional skill and judgement in performing his or her statutory functions;
- substitute its own judgements for those of an appointed auditor in the exercise of those functions; and
- direct an appointed auditor to act or to review his or her decisions, as only the courts have the powers to do so.
PSAA will therefore not consider complaints about:
- the judgements and decisions of auditors;
- the processes followed by auditors of local authorities who are exercising their specific powers in relation to electors’ objections to items in a council’s accounts, as this is a matter for the courts. This extends not just to decisions about matters of substance, but also to the process by which those decisions are made.
However, PSAA will consider complaints about auditors which relate to a failure in service or maladministration.
The definition of maladministration is very wide, and can include:
- failure to follow proper procedures;
- discourtesy and rudeness;
- not informing someone of their rights and entitlements;
- not responding to phone calls, emails or letters;
- not providing answers to reasonable questions within our remit;
- not answering complaints fully and promptly;
- failure to recognise and rectify mistakes; and
- failure to comply with standards.
PSAA will not consider any complaint that relates to ongoing audit investigations, until the investigation has been concluded.
Complaints about PSAA staff
If we can deal with your complaint, we will contact you within five working days of receipt by letter or email to explain how it will be dealt with, by whom, and when you can expect to receive a full reply. There are two possible stages to each complaint:
Stage one: Local resolution
Complaints will be dealt with by the person who is the subject of the complaint and their line manager, as they are best placed to carry out a full investigation.
We will consider your complaint carefully and, if the matter is straightforward, we will usually send you a full reply within 20 working days. If the issue is more complex, we will contact you before we start the investigation to clarify your concerns. If we need to carry out a very detailed investigation our response may take longer than 20 working days. If this is the case, we will contact you to explain what is happening, and tell you when we will send you the full response.
If we find that your complaint is justified, you will receive an apology together with details of any other steps we will take to meet your concerns. We will also explain what we are doing to prevent the problem happening again.
Where a complaint cannot be resolved then you can ask for it to be referred to stage two. However, all efforts will be made to resolve the complaint at stage one.
Stage two: Review
The PSAA Chief Officer will undertake a review of the complaint and how it was handled at stage one.
Timing of complaints
In order to ensure that complaints are dealt with properly, we will not usually accept complaints that are made more than six months after the event in question.
Complaints without merit
PSAA reserves the right not to investigate complaints that it considers to be frivolous or without merit; where further investigation would not serve any useful purpose; or where it would otherwise be an inappropriate use of the complaints procedure, with particular regard to the proper use of public funds.
Complaints about PSAA Board members
The Chairman is responsible for responses to complaints against Board members.
In the event of a complaint against the Chairman personally, the Deputy Chairman and the Chairman of the Audit Committee (or, if they are the same person, another Board Member selected by the Deputy Chairman) shall consider whether there is a sufficiently serious prima facie case, and if so, shall inform the IDeA, as founder of the company.