Independent Complaints Assessors for the Department for Transport

This page was last updated on 2nd December 2022

Independent Complaints Assessors provide independent reviews of how complaints made against the Department for Transport, its agencies and other bodies have been handled.

If you think you’ve been treated unfairly or have received poor service from the Department for Transport (DfT) or one of its agencies or other bodies, you can ask for an Independent Complaints Assessor (ICA) to review your complaint. The ICA will provide assurance that the delivery bodies have followed proper procedures.

The department uses the services of Independent Complaints Assessors, who are part-time and are not civil servants. This is a free, independent, and impartial service.

If you want to complain your first step should always be to go to DfT or the agency or body itself to handle the matter. ICAs are there to review the way that the department or agency handled your complaint prior to their final response.

How ICAs work

An ICA looks at whether the DfT or its agency or other body has:

  • handled your complaint appropriately, has been fair and unbiased, and has met its complaint handling policy
  • given you a reasonable decision

You can only ask for your complaint to be referred to the ICA after the DfT, agency or other body has delivered their final response.

The ICA will need to see the letters and emails between you and the DfT, or the agency or body you’re complaining about. We aim to send this material to the ICA within 15 working days of you asking us to pass your complaint to them. We will notify you if this takes longer.

The ICA will acknowledge receipt of a referral to the DfT, agency or other body and the complainant within five working days unless the ICA judges that there is no need to do so in the circumstances. The ICA will give the complainant a contact telephone number, e-mail, and postal addresses.

What they can look at

  • The ICA can look at complaints about:
  • bias or discrimination
  • unfair treatment, injustice, loss, or hardship
  • poor or misleading advice
  • failure to give information
  • mistakes, and failure to apply an appropriate remedy
  • unreasonable delays
  • poor administration, failure to follow the complaints process, failure to conduct a proportionate and reasonable investigation
  • inappropriate staff behaviour

What they cannot look at

An ICA cannot look at complaints about:

  • legislation
  • government, departmental or agency policy
  • matters where only a court, tribunal or other body can decide the outcome
  • legal proceedings that have already started and will decide the outcome
  • an ongoing investigation or enquiry
  • personnel and disciplinary decisions or actions as an employer

An ICA can’t review your complaint if it’s being or has been investigated by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

They can’t usually look at any complaint that:

  • hasn’t completed all stages of an organisation’s complaints process
  • is more than 6 months old from the date of the final response
    from the department or agency

How do you contact the Independent Complaints Assessor

We don’t provide general contact information because it’s important to go through DfT, agency or other body you have been dealing with so they can try to resolve the matter first.

If you are unhappy with our final response to your complaint you can then tell us that you want to have your complaint reviewed by an ICA.

Once the ICA has received your details, they will contact you to advise you whether they think they’re able to review your complaint. They’ll provide you with their contact details and ask you for any
further information they need.

If all parties believe that referral to the ICA will not resolve the complaint, then the ICA does not have to consider it. Instead, you can ask an MP to refer your case to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO).

Which DfT agencies does the ICA cover?

You can find out more about the complaints procedures of the DfT and our agencies, which are currently covered by the ICA:

Department for Transport: ICA Terms of Reference; including separate HTML version of the Terms of Reference and the ICA Referral form for information

Data protection and personal information

If you would like a copy of personal information held about you by an ICA, send your request in writing for the attention of the Data Protection Officer at:

The Independent Complaints Assessor
Administration Team 4/33-35
Department for Transport
33 Horseferry Road

You will need to supply the following information:

  • full name
  • full address
  • national insurance number
  • a description of the information you require

Please don’t send your request by email. You won’t be charged for this service.


The DfT ICA is committed to providing the best possible service to complainants. We welcome feedback, which will help us to improve the quality of our service. These views are important to us and ensure that the high standard we aim to reach is being achieved.