When you apply for Housing Benefit, we will give you a decision in writing about your claim. If you disagree with our decision you can challenge it. You can do this with most types of decisions where you believe that the determination is inaccurate because of something we did wrong or did not know about. There are different ways in which you can challenge our decision. You can:
You will need to be clear about what you want us to do.
Explain our decision
You can ask us to give you a statement of reasons to explain how we made our decision. You will need to write to us requesting this and we will send you our reasons in writing.
What should I do if I want you to look at your decision again?
You must write to us within one month of the date on the decision letter. You must be specific about why we should reconsider our decision and provide any relevant supporting evidence to enable us to do so. If there are special circumstances that mean you cannot write to us within one month, you must contact us to explain why, as we may still be able to look at our decision again.
What happens when the Council looks at the decision again?
The decision will be checked by a different officer to the one who made the original decision to see if it is correct. We will then write to you and tell you whether we have changed our original decision. If the decision cannot be changed our letter will confirm why. If you still disagree, you can ask for your case to be considered by an independent tribunal
I want to appeal, what should I do?
Time limits apply. You have one month from the date of the letter telling you about the original decision, or the outcome of the reconsideration, to submit your appeal. A late appeal may be accepted if you have special circumstances, such as a death or serious illness, that prevented you appealing in time, but not if more than 13 months have passed.
How should I appeal?
Who can appeal?
Any person affected can submit an appeal - a person affected can be either the claimant, their appointee or in some cases a landlord.
What happens when I appeal?
When your appeal is received the appeals officer will look at the original decision and see if it can be changed, if it can, and the new decision is in your favour, your appeal will stop and you will be notified of the new decision. If the new decision is not in your favour, the appeal will continue.
If the appeals officer does not think the decision can be changed they will send your appeal and an explanation of the law and facts used to make the decision to the Tribunal Service. You will also be sent a copy of these documents.
You will also be sent a form (TAS1) which you must complete and return to the Tribunal Service within 14 days, or your appeal will stop. This form also asks if you would like to have an oral hearing or paper hearing. If you choose an oral hearing you can attend and deal with any questions or issues that may arise. You will also have the chance to ask questions.
What happens at a hearing?
The hearing will be before an independent tribunal - which, despite the name, is usually one person. They are normally a Barrister or Solicitor and are completely independent of the Council. You will have the opportunity to put your case. If you have evidence, documents, etc it is a good idea to send these to the tribunal, through the Tribunal Service, before the hearing. You can be accompanied by a friend or representative, who can speak for you, but there are no costs awarded - even if you win.
What happens after the hearing?
You will be notified of the Tribunal's decision and the Council will also be notified. If the decision is in your favour, the Council will have the opportunity to challenge this at the Upper Tribunal. We will tell you if this is the case. If the Council decides not to challenge the decision, your benefit will be reassessed and any benefit due to you paid as soon as possible.
If the decision is not in your favour you can ask the Tribunal Service for a statement of reasons, you must do this within one month of the decision.
If you do not agree with the Tribunal's decision you may take your appeal to the Upper Tribunal (formerly called the Social Security Commissioner). Your notification from the Tribunal Service will tell you how to do this.