Housing Benefit Decisions and Appeals

Any decision that affects your entitlement to, or the amount of Housing Benefit you receive, can be appealed against. This page tells you what to do if you think a Housing Benefit decision is wrong.

Two of our more common areas for dispute relate to:

  1. Overpayments of Housing Benefit
  2. Backdating of Housing Benefit

If you have received a decision on either of these and feel the decision is wrong, more relevant information that could help you with your dispute is listed below.

I don’t understand my Housing Benefit decision

If you have received a Housing Benefit decision and you do not know why, or what the decision is, you should contact us as soon as possible. We will explain the decision to you so that you understand what has happened and why.

You can also find helpful information explaining our letters here.

I think my Housing Benefit decision is wrong

Our decision letters show you what information we have used to work out your award. You should read the letter carefully to check the details we have used are correct.

If you have received a decision from us and you think it is wrong, you should write to us within one month of the decision to tell us so.

You can ask us to look at the decision again, or appeal against the decision.

In either case you should tell us:

  • Which decision you disagree with
  • Why you think the decision is wrong
  • If there was something we were not aware of when the decision was made

What is the difference between asking you to look at the decision again and an appeal?

We can look at the decision again and ‘revise’ the decision if we receive a written request from you within one month from the decision notice.

If you want to appeal a decision, the written request telling us that you want to appeal will need to be signed by you, as well as being received within a month of our decision.

I have asked you to look at the decision again, what happens next?

  • We will review the decision and any additional information you have given us with your request.
  • If we agree that the decision is wrong, we will correct the decision and send you a new decision letter.
  • If we review the decision and feel it is correct, we will write to you telling you that the decision has not been changed and why we think the decision is correct.
  • If you receive our letter and still think the decision was wrong, then you can appeal our decision. To do this, you will need to write to us telling us that you are appealing the decision.
  • Your appeal letter should be signed by you and be received within a month of the letter telling you that we haven’t been able to change our decision.

I have appealed the decision, what happens next?

When you tell us that you want to appeal we look at the decision again to make sure it is correct. If when we look at the decision we feel it is wrong, then we will correct it and tell you what the revised decision is.

If we review the decision and feel it is correct, we will refer your case to the Tribunal Service for them to make a judgement on the decision.

We will prepare paperwork for the Tribunal Service, giving them the information they need to consider your appeal. We call this a ‘submission’. When the submission has been prepared a copy is sent to you, as well as to the Tribunal Service.

After a submission has been made, both the council and you await a hearing date from the Tribunal Service.

What does the Tribunal Service do?
The Tribunal Service is independent to the council and will make a judgement on the legal correctness of a decision. At the hearing, a judge will consider the evidence before them and the how the facts apply to the law. After the hearing, the judge will send a letter to both you and the council, to say what the decision is. If the judge feels the Housing Benefit decision is correct, then the Housing Benefit decision will not be changed. If the judge feels the Housing Benefit decision is wrong, the judge’s letter will tell the council what the correct the decision is.
Do I have to go to the hearing?

You do not have to go to the hearing if you do not want to. However, going to the hearing gives you the chance to explain to the judge why you feel the decision is wrong in your own words. It also means that you can answer any questions the judge may have for you.

The council will usually send an officer to the hearing so that they can answer any questions the judge may have and explain why they feel the decision is correct.

I think my Housing Benefit decision is wrong but I haven’t asked you to look at the decision, or appealed, within a month

  • We may still be able to look at the decision again and/or submit your appeal.
  • If you have not written to us within a month you will need to tell us why you have not. You will need to tell us about any special circumstances that meant you could not ask us to review the decision sooner.
  • The maximum amount of time we can consider is up to 13 months.
  • If we feel that the circumstances you tell us about would have meant you were unable to ask us to review the decision within a month, then we will review the decision.
  • If we feel that you could have asked us to review the decision within the month, then we will not grant an extension to the time limit.

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