When you apply for Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support, we will give you a decision in writing about your claim. If you disagree with it, you can ask us to look at it again.
There are different ways in which you can do this. You can contact us to:
- ask us to explain our decision
- ask is to look at your claim again or
- appeal against our decision
You must be a person affected by the decision to ask us for any of these options.
Who is affected?
The people this will affect include:
- you (the person making the claim)
- someone acting on your behalf (chosen by the courts)
- someone who we agree can act on your behalf
- your landlord - but only in matters relating to who we pay benefit to
- your agent - but only in matters relating to who we pay benefit to or
- anybody who we ask to pay back benefit we have overpaid
This means that only you can ask us to look at our decision again about how much Housing Benefit / Council Tax Support we think you are entitled to. Your landlord or agent can only appeal against decisions relating to whether or not we pay your Housing Benefit direct to them, or if we decide to recover an overpayment of Housing Benefit from them.
The amount of Housing Benefit/Council Tax Support we pay you is a matter between us and you. Only you can ask us to look again at how much Housing Benefit/Council Tax Support we pay you. If we reduce your benefit to recover any Housing Benefit we have overpaid you from a previous address your current landlord cannot appeal against our decision to recover that overpayment.
Landlords and appeals
Your landlord only has certain rights of appeal if they don't agree with our decision about your Housing Benefit.
- Your landlord can appeal if our decision is not to pay benefit direct to them
- Your landlord can appeal if we ask them to pay back any benefit we have overpaid you
- Your landlord cannot appeal about how much benefit we give you
Decisions you can't appeal against
You can ask us to look again at any decision you think is wrong. But there are some decisions you can't appeal against, for example:
- what information and proof we need you to give us
- if we did not look at our decision again because you asked us too late
- if we decide not to backdate your benefit because you did not tell us about a change in your circumstances on time
- the method of payment or how often we pay you
- that we have a right to recover an amount we have overpaid you
- how we recover the amount we overpaid you
- and if you think our decision about a discretionary housing payment is wrong
Statement of reasons
You can ask us to give you a statement (called a statement of reasons) in writing to explain how we made our decision. This does not affect your right to appeal against our decision. The time we take to provide the statement will mean you have more time to ask us to look at our decision again or appeal to an independent body.
What should I do if I want you to look at your decision again?
For Housing Benefit you must write to us within one month of the date on the decision letter. If there are special circumstances which mean you cannot write to us within one month, you must contact us to explain why because we may still be able to look at our decision again.
For the Council Tax Support, if you disagree with or want to appeal against our decision you should, in the first instance, write to us, explaining the grounds of your disagreement or appeal.
What happens when we look at our decision again?
The decision will be checked by a different officer to the one who made the original decision, to see if it is correct.
If we can change our decision:
- we may change it from the date of our original decision
- and will send you a letter explaining our new decision
If we cannot change our decision:
- we will send you a letter explaining why
- and you have one more month to appeal to the Appeal Tribunals Service for Housing Benefit
- or you may appeal in writing to the independent tribunal, the Valuation Office Agency for Council Tax Support
I want to appeal against your decision. What should I do?
If you want to appeal against a decision, you must write to us within one month of the date of the letter giving you the decision for your Housing Benefit. You should give all the reasons why you disagree with our decision. This is important because the tribunal does not have to look at anything you do not mention in your letter of appeal. The tribunal can only look at the evidence, the law, and the circumstances at the time the original decision was made.
The Appeals Tribunal Service will only accept a late appeal if you have special circumstances for not appealing within one month. You should include an explanation of these special circumstances with your reasons for appeal. Your appeal cannot be accepted for any reason if it is made 13 months or more after the date on the decision letter.
For Council Tax Reduction if you are still unhappy with our decision you can appeal to an independent body, the Valuation Tribunal. You will need to fill in an appeal form. You can do this online at www.valuationtribunal.gov.uk.
You have two months to appeal to the Valuation Tribunal after the Council has given you its final written decision. If you have not received a reply to your appeal within two months, you can still appeal to the Valuation Tribunal if no more than four months have passed since you wrote to us regarding you appeal.
Remember, if the appeal/valuation tribunal finds you have been getting to much money, we will reduce your Housing Benefit/Council Tax Support.