Appealing a benefit decision
If you have claimed housing benefit or council tax support and disagree with our decision, you can challenge our decision.
The appeals process
You can challenge a decision in a number of ways:
- Ask us to explain our decision. This is known as a 'statement of reasons'
- Ask us to look at the decision again. This is known as an 'internal review'
- Appeal in writing, giving reasons why you disagree with the decision
Reviewing our decision
If you ask for an internal review, we will review the assessment of your claim and let you know in writing if we can change our decision.
You need to support any statement you make with evidence. For example, if you are disputing the income we have used to assess your claim, you will need to provide evidence of what the correct income was so we can recalculate your claim. If we need more information, we will contact you.
If your appeal is about an overpayment we will, wherever possible, stop any further recovery action until we have made a decision.
Appealing to an independent tribunal
If you are not happy with our decision after we have reviewed your case:
- You can continue your appeal to an independent tribunal, called the First Tier Tribunal. The Tribunals Service administers this
- If you are not happy with the result of the tribunal, you can appeal through the Upper Tier Tribunal
How to appeal
You must appeal in writing, identifying the decision you disagree with and why you believe the decision to be wrong.
We must receive the appeal within one month of the date we wrote to you. We can only consider an appeal outside this time limit (up to 13 months) if there are special circumstances from the date of the original decision notification letter.
Who may make an appeal
You may appeal if you are affected by the decision. This means you will be:
- The claimant
- The landlord
- The landlord's agent or an appointee
If you are acting on a claimant's behalf, we must have signed authority for you to do so.
A claimant has the right to ask us to review all the decisions we have made on the claim. Landlords may only appeal against decisions about how we pay them and how often. They can also appeal if we are pursuing them to repay an overpayment.
You should provide any relevant evidence to support your appeal. This might be wage slips, receipts or medical certificates, for example. You must provide originals. We will copy them and give them back to you.
We recommend that you bring these documents to us in person. We cannot accept responsibility for documents lost in the post.
Taking your case to First Tier Tribunal
If you are not happy with our decision, you can continue with your appeal to the Tribunals Service, which is an independent body. At this stage, we will submit the appeal on your behalf to the Tribunals Service, along with all other documents we hold about your case.
The Tribunals Service will contact you directly from this point onwards. Once it has accepted your appeal, it will list it for an independent hearing. The Tribunals Service will write to you advising of the date, time and place of your hearing. It will also ask you if you want to attend or if you would prefer the tribunal to consider your case without being you present.
Taking your case to the Upper Tier Tribunal
If you disagree with the decision of the First Tier Tribunal, you may be able to appeal to the Upper Tribunal. A legally qualified tribunal member will decide if your appeal can be sent to the commissioners or if another tribunal should look at the appeal again.
Help with your tribunal appeal
You can ask an advice centre, a solicitor or another suitable person or organisation to help with your appeal. We would advise you to check if financial support is available to help with your appeal before committing yourself to legal expenses that you may be unable to meet.
Advice centres like the Citizens' Advice Bureau and law centres can represent you and help you understand the reasons for benefit decisions. They can sometimes go with you to a tribunal hearing.
If you think the council tax support you are getting is wrong
If you think the calculation is wrong, you can ask us to check it again. If you still disagree after we have checked it, you can appeal to the Valuation Tribunal who will consider your appeal.