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. It also states that a person affected can appeal against the Council’s decision to an independent appeal tribunal.
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 claimants 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.
You can request a review of the decision and that means that we will look again at the decision and make sure that it has been done correctly. You have one month from the date of a benefit decision to ask for a review. You can appeal if you are still not happy with a decision.
An appeal means that a Tribunal, independent of the Council and the Department for Work and Pensions, will consider the Council’s decision.
Who can appeal?
A person affected is:
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 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 the Council to revise a decision concerning the calculation of a claimant’s entitlement; and that the landlord or agent can only ask the Council 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 someone do if they are not happy with the Council’s decision?
A person affected can query the Council’s decision and request further information about the decision. The Council will give the person an explanation, sometimes over the phone. If they are still not happy they can appeal or request a revision of the Council’s decision
How do they ask for a revision?
The affected person must write to the Council within one calendar month of the date on the notification letter.
In exceptional circumstances the Council will 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 will not consider a later request for a revision where the request is made 13 months after the decision notice was first issued.
Will the Council notify the person 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.
Statement of reasons
A person affected can ask the Council to provide a written Statement of Reasons. The Statement of Reasons does not affect your right of an 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.
How does a person ask the Appeal Tribunal to look at the Council’s 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 the person 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 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.
The amount of Benefit payable is a matter between the Council and the claimant. Only the tenant can ask the Council to review the amount of Benefit payable. If the Council reduces 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.
If you have any further questions regarding appeals you can contact the Benefits Unit.