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Housing benefit - appeals

The Housing Benefit (Decision and Appeals) Regulations 2001 state that any 'person affected' by a relevant decision can ask the council to revise its decision (Look at the decision again).

It also states that a person affected can appeal against our decision to an independent appeal tribunal (The Tribunal Service).

This means that every time a decision is made about your benefit, you are sent a letter (Decision notice) notifying you of the amount of Housing and Council Tax Reduction you have been awarded, if you have been overpaid/underpaid or if your benefit has been terminated. If you disagree with this decision you will have to appeal in writing within one calendar month of the decision, stating your reasons as to why you feel that your calculation has been assessed incorrectly.

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 its decision regarding 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. 

 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

A person affected can query the Council's decision and request further information (Statement of Reasons) about the decision. The Council will give you an explanation, sometimes over the phone. If after you receive your explanation you can appeal or request a revision of the Council's decision

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 reasons as to 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.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.