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Dispute a Housing Benefit decision

Introduction

If you disagree with a decision we have made about your benefit award, you can:

  • ask us to look at the decision again (known as a reconsideration)
  • appeal against the decision to an independent appeal tribunal

Please note that you have one calendar month from the date of the decision notice to request a reconsideration or to appeal the decision. This time limit can be extended but only if there are special circumstances as to why you could not appeal earlier.

If the decision can be changed, we will send you a new decision.

If the decision cannot be changed, we will send you a written statement of reasons why. If you are still unhappy with the reasons why the decision cannot be changed, you can appeal to an independent appeal tribunal.

You must submit your appeal in writing to us, giving your reasons why you think the decision is wrong.

What is a 'relevant decision'?

A relevant decision is any matter concerning a claim for benefit, for example: the amount of benefit payable; the rent eligible for benefit; the calculation of a claimant's income or the calculation and recovery of an overpayment. Some decisions, mainly administrative, do not carry a right of appeal. You will be notified if the matter you are disputing does not carry the right of appeal.

A request for a revision means that we will look again at the decision on a claim for benefit and will make sure that it has been assessed correctly.

An appeal means that a tribunal, independent of the council and the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP), will consider our decision. An appeal only becomes an appeal if the request for revision has been turned down. 

Who is a 'person affected'?

 A person affected is:

  • A claimant
  • Someone acting on behalf of the claimant who is appointed by the courts
  • Someone who the council agrees is appointed to act on behalf of the claimant (an appointee)
  • A landlord - but only in matters relating to whom payment of benefit is to be made
  • An agent - but only in matters relating to whom payment of benefit is to be made
  • Any person from whom it is determined 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; and that the landlord or agent can only ask us to revise a decision about whether payment should be made to a landlord and whether the decision to recover an overpayment from a landlord or agent has been correctly made.

What should I do if I disagree with your decision?

A person affected can query our decision and request further information (Statement of Reasons) about the decision. We will give you an explanation, sometimes over the phone. After you receive your explanation, you can appeal or request a revision of our decision.

How do I ask for a revision?

The affected person must write to us within one calendar month of the date on the notification letter. In the request for revision, the person affected must state why they feel the decision is wrong.

In exceptional circumstances, we will extend the time limit for requesting a decision to be revised. The person affected must write to us giving reasons for not requesting a revision at the appropriate time.

We will not consider a later request for a revision where the request is made 13 months after the decision notice was first issued.

Will you notify me of the outcome of my request for a revision?

After reconsidering our decision, we will write to the person affected stating that the decision has been changed or that it will stay the same. We may request further information from the person affected before making our final decision. The person must provide the information within one month of the request.

Statement of Reasons

A person affected can ask us to provide a written Statement of Reasons. The Statement of Reasons does not affect your right of an appeal. The statement will explain how we have reached our decision. The time taken for us to provide the statement may extend the time limit for requesting a revision or seeking an appeal to the tribunal. 

How do I ask the appeal tribunal to look at your decision?

A person affected by a decision may request that the appeals tribunal consider our decision. The request must be in writing and must be received by us within one month of the date on the decision notification letter.

Where the person affected previously requested that we revise our decision, and has received a reply from us, the person has one month from the date we notified them to ask for their case to be considered by the appeals tribunal.

In exceptional circumstances, the time limit for requesting an appeal can be extended. The person affected must write to us giving grounds for not appealing 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 write to the person to tell them of the date, time and place of their hearing. They will also be asked if they want to attend or whether they would prefer the tribunal to consider their case without them being present; this is called a 'paper hearing'.

In most cases, the tribunal will consist of only one panel member who is a legally qualified person. If, however, complicated financial matters are to be considered, a financially qualified person will also be present. The clerk to the tribunal and the council's representative may also be present.

What if I am not happy with the tribunal's decision?

If we, or the person affected, feels that the decision of the lower appeal tribunal is wrong, in law they can seek leave to appeal to the upper appeal tribunal.

Important

The amount of benefit payable is a matter between the council and the claimant. Only the tenant can ask us to review the amount of benefit payable. If we reduce a tenant's benefit to recover an overpayment in respect of a previous address, the current landlord cannot appeal against the decision to recover that overpayment.