Appeal against a benefits decision
The (Decision and Appeals) Regulations 2001 state that any 'person affected' by a relevant decision can ask the Council to revise its decision. It also states that a person affected can appeal against the Council's benefit decision to an independent appeal tribunal.
A person affected can ask the Council to provide a written Statement of Reasons about a relevant decision it has made regarding Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction. If you require an explanation about the rent element award of Universal Credit, you would need to contact the Department for Work & Pensions on 0800 328 5644.
The Statement of Reasons does not affect your right to appeal. The statement will explain how the Council reached its decision. The time taken for the Council to provide the statement may extend the time limit for requesting a revision or seeking an appeal to the Tribunal.
A “relevant decision” is any matter or outcome concerning a claim for Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction, 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 decisions, 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 the Council will look again at its decision regarding a claim for benefit and will make sure that it has been done correctly.
An appeal means that a Tribunal, independent of the Council and the Dept. for Work and Pensions, will consider the Council's decision.
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
- A landlord - but only in matters relating to whom payment of Housing Benefit is to be made
- An agent - but only in matters relating to whom payment of Housing Benefit is to be made
- Any person from whom, it is determined, an overpayment is to be recovered
Only the claimant can ask the Council to revise a decision concerning the calculation of their entitlement .The landlord or agent can only ask the Council to revise a decision about whether payment should be made direct to them and/or whether the decision to recover an overpayment from a landlord or agent has been correctly made. If the Council has reduced Housing Benefit at the claimant’s new address, in order to recover an overpayment which occurred at the previous address, the landlord of the new address cannot appeal this decision. This is because they were not a person affected by the original decision and the claimant would need to make up the difference in rent.
How do you ask for a revision?
The person affected must write a signed letter to the Council within one calendar month of the date on the benefit or overpayment decision notice. This should include details of the decision you are challenging and detailed reasons why you think the original decision is wrong.. Emails cannot be accepted. If you write in after the four-week deadline, you must state why the appeal is late.
In exceptional circumstances the Council may extend the time limit for requesting a decision to be revised. The person affected must write to the Council giving reasons for not requesting a revision at the appropriate time. The Council cannot consider a late request for a revision where the request is made 13 months or later, after the decision notice was first issued.
Notifying you of the outcome of a request for a revision
After reconsidering its decision, the Council will write to the person affected stating that the decision has been changed or that it will stay the same. The Council may request further information from the person affected before it makes a final decision. The person must provide the information within one month of the request. If your appeal has been referred to the Tribunal & Appeals Service, you will be notified of a hearing date and venue directly.
How to ask the Appeal Tribunal to review a decision?
A person affected by a decision may request that the Appeals Tribunal consider the Council's decision. The request must be in writing and must be received by the Council within one month of the date on the decision notification letter. The Council's leaflet explaining the decision-making and appeals procedures contains a form that can be used to appeal.
Where the person affected previously requested that the Council revise its decision, and has received a reply from the Council regarding the request, the person has one month from the date the Council notified the outcome of the request 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 the Council 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 you have to attend the Tribunal?
Tribunals are held locally. The Tribunals Service will write to you to tell you of the date, time and place of the hearing. You will also be asked if you want to attend or whether you would prefer the Tribunal to consider the case without you 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 you are not happy with the Tribunal's decision?
If the Council or the person affected feels that the decision of the Appeal Tribunal is wrong in law they can seek leave to appeal to the Social Security Commissioners.