NERC complaints procedure
NERC, as part of UK Research & Innovation, is committed to high standards of service in all their operations.
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. NERC responds to complaints in line with the UKRI Complaints Policy - external link.
Reasons for complaints
UKRI’s definition of a complaint is: “an expression of dissatisfaction, however made, about the standard of service, action or lack of action by UKRI.” Complaints will generally include the following:
- Failure to follow the UKRI’s agreed policies and/or procedures.
- Failure to follow the UKRI’s legal obligations.
- The unhelpfulness or insensitive attitude of a NERC employee.
- Neglect or unreasonable delay in answering a query or responding to a request for service.
- Dissatisfaction with the way a request made under data protection or freedom of information legislation has been handled.
The following types of complaint are excluded from the procedure set out in this policy:
- Complaints regarding a disagreement with a decision of NERC Council, a NERC Committee or Board or resulting from NERC’s peer review process.
- A matter which is currently subject to litigation or legal proceedings.
- Complaints relating to decisions by the research organisations we fund.
- The matter has previously been through our complaints procedure in line with this policy and has been closed.
- Complaints made by NERC staff which is better managed via other policies and procedures, such as grievances.
- UKRI will not respond to anonymous complaints, please see the UKRI Whistleblowing Policy.
- Where a complaint is related to Research Conduct, please refer to the UKRI Policy and Guidelines on Governance of Good Research Conduct, which provides detailed guidance.
Concerns relating to the conduct of NERC-funded research or researchers should be directed to:
Dr Avril Allman
How to make a complaint
In the first instance we ask you to try to resolve your complaint directly with the research council officer dealing with the issue.
A list of NERC officers can be found on the funding contacts page. The appropriate NERC officer will investigate the complaint and try to resolve the problem to your satisfaction. If necessary, you may ask for the complaint to be escalated to the relevant senior manager with responsibility for the funding scheme.
If the matter is not resolved or the response you have received is not felt to be satisfactory, you may wish to submit a formal complaint to the UKRI Complaints team. This should be directed to:
UKRI Head of Governance
North Star Avenue, Swindon
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 NERC to investigate the complaint in a timely and effective manner we request that the following information is provided:
- Full contact details, including a phone number and e-mail address, if available.
- The section/team within the research council and the name of the research council officer (if known) dealing with the issue
- Whether this is a first-time complaint or a follow-up to an earlier complaint that was not dealt with satisfactorily;
- A clear description of the complaint and what you consider should be done.
The complaint will be acknowledged within three working days and, in most cases, a full response made within 20 working days thereafter. If a full response is not possible within this time, then 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:
Any whistleblowing complaints received will be handled in line with the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998. Please see the UKRI Whistleblowing Policy
Appeals and the Ombudsman
The complainant has the right to appeal. The appeal should be received and logged in the same way as complaints and must be received within six months of the initial complaint response (closure date).
UKRI will identify a senior independent employee to conduct the review. The independent person must not have any prior knowledge of the complaint nor have any likely bias when conducting the review.
The review timeline and process will follow the standard complaints process.
If the complainant is still not happy with the appeal decision then they retain the right to refer the matter to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman via an MP.
Our requesting information page gives details of how to request information from us.
For Freedom of Information Act or Environmental Information Regulations requests, please contact:
For Data Protection Act requests, please contact: