Making a complaint

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) upholds high standards of integrity and professionalism in all areas of the UKRI and its councils. In line with the seven principles of public life (also known as the Nolan principles) UKRI operates a code of conduct for all of our staff, boards and councils and others who act on our behalf.

We recognise that we need to be responsive where these standards are challenged. In particular, we will:

  • operate a transparent and fair complaints procedure
  • treat all complaints seriously and confidentially
  • provide a high quality, accessible and responsive service.

In the first instance we ask that you try to resolve your complaint directly with the UKRI officer dealing with the issue. If the matter is not resolved and you wish to escalate your complaint please follow the processes outlined below.

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.

The complaint should be directed to:

  • Head of Governance
    UK Research and Innovation
    North Star Avenue
    SN2 1SZ


To help us deal with any complaint, it would be helpful to provide the following information:

  • The section of the UKRI or council relevant to the complaint, with a contact name if possible
  • 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
  • Full contact details, including a phone number and email address, if available.

UKRI is guided by the Principles of Good Complaint Handling developed by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. The principles are:

  • Getting it right
  • Being customer focused
  • Being open and accountable
  • Acting fairly and proportionately
  • Putting things right
  • Seeking continuous improvement.


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 an UKRI employee
  • Neglect or unreasonable delay in answering a query or responding to a request for service.

The following types of complaint are excluded from the procedure set out in this policy:

  • Complaints regarding a disagreement with a decision of the UKRI Board, or that of our councils, committees or panels (including peer review)
  • 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 UKRI staff which is better managed via other policies and procedures, such as grievances
  • UKRI will not respond to anonymous complaints; please see the UKRI Whistle Blowing 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.

This policy applies to all complaints raised formally through the complaints process defined here.

Where complaints are received through other channels individuals should make the complainant aware of the formal complaints procedures set out here.

For complaints relating to freedom of information and data protection legislation, the complainant retains the right to refer the matter to the Information Commissioner's Office.

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.