Housing Benefit appeals
Any 'person affected' by a decision regarding Housing Benefit can ask us to revise our decision or appeal to an independent tribunal.
A person affected includes:
- a claimant
- someone appointed by the courts to act on behalf of the claimant
- someone who we agree is appointed to act on behalf of the claimant
- a landlord or agent, but only in matters relating to whom payment of benefit is to be made
- any person from whom an overpayment is to be recovered
This means that only the claimant can ask us to revise a decision concerning the calculation of a claimant's entitlement. A landlord or agent can only ask us to revise a decision about whether payment should be made to a landlord and if the decision to recover an overpayment from a landlord or agent has been correctly made.
Appeals can be made regarding matters like:
- the amount of benefit payable
- the rent eligible for benefit
- the calculation of a claimant's income
- the calculation and recovery of an overpayment
You will be notified if the matter you are disputing does not carry the right of appeal.
A request for a revision means we will look again at the decision we have made and make sure it has been done correctly.
An appeal means that a independent tribunal will consider our decision.
If you are not happy with our decision
You can ask for more information about the decision.
We will give you an explanation, sometimes over the phone. If you are still not happy you can appeal or request a revision.
Request a revision
You must write to us within one calendar month of the date on the notification letter.
In exceptional circumstances we will extend the time limit for asking for a revision. You must write to us and tell us why you did not ask at the appropriate time.
We will not consider a later request if it is made 13 months after the decision notice was first issued.
We will write to you saying the decision has been changed or will stay the same. You can ask us to provide a written Statement of Reasons, which will explain how we reached the decision. This does not affect your right of an appeal.
We may ask for further information before making a final decision, which you must provide within one month of being of the request.
The time taken for us to provide the statement may extend the time limit for asking for a revision or seeking an appeal to the tribunal.
How do I ask the appeal tribunal to look at the council's decision?
You must make the request to us in writing within one month of the date on the decision notification letter. Our leaflet explaining the decision-making and appeals procedures contains a form that can be used to appeal.
If you have already asked us to revise our decision and have received a reply about the request, you have one month from the date of our reply to ask for your case to be considered by the appeal tribunal.
Extending the time limit for appeals
In exceptional circumstances the time limit for asking for an appeal can be extended.
The 'person affected' must write to us saying why you did not appeal at the appropriate time.
A request for an extension of the time limit will not be considered if it is made 13 months after the notice of decision was issued.
Will I have to attend the tribunal?
Tribunals are held locally.
The Tribunals Service will tell you the date, time and location.
You will also be asked if you want to attend or if you would prefer the tribunal to consider your case without you being present, this is called a 'paper hearing'.
In most cases the tribunal will include only one panel member who is legally qualified.
If complicated financial matters are to be considered a financially qualified person will also be present.
The Clerk to the Tribunal and our representative may also attend.
What if I am not happy with the tribunal's decision?
If we or the person affected feels that the decision of the appeal tribunal is wrong in law, they can seek to appeal to the Social Security Commissioners.
Further information and advice
You can contact us for further information.
Advice centres, like the Citizens Advice Bureau and law centres, can represent you and help you understand the reasons for decisions about Housing Benefits and Council Tax Reduction.
Trade unions may also offer free advice to their members.
Solicitors and legal advice
You may be able to get advice from a solicitor under the Legal Advice and Assistance scheme.
If you use a solicitor, the scheme does not cover the cost of them helping you at a hearing.
For details of solicitors and advice centres, contact:
The Legal Aid Board
Franchise Development Group 85
Grays Inn Road
Freephone: 0500 282 3000
Benefit reviews and overpayments
The amount of benefit payable is a matter between us and the claimant.
Only the tenant can ask the us to review the amount.
If we reduce a tenant's benefit to recover an overpayment at a previous address, the current landlord cannot appeal against the decision.