Housing Benefit appeals
If you want to appeal against your Housing Benefit Decision your appeal will be dealt with by the Tribunals Service which is part of the Ministry of Justice.
If you want to appeal against your Council Tax Reduction Scheme, your appeal will be dealt with the Valuation Tribunal. This means that if you wish to appeal against both Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction Scheme decisions you will have to make two separate applications to two different appeal bodies. (Appeal against your Council Tax Reduction Scheme)
The following information relates to appeals in respect of Housing Benefit
- Have the right to appeal against the decision?
- Believe the decision is wrong?
- Want to appeal to an independent tribunal?
If YES, to all, use the form provided by the benefits section.
The Appeals Service will decide your appeal at a tribunal hearing. The tribunal is made up of people who are not from the Local Authority.
- Complete all relevant boxes on the form. You can get help from an advice centre or a solicitor.
- Write down the reasons for your appeal. This is important because the tribunal does not have to look at anything you do not mention. Make sure that you sign the form.
- Send the form back to the Benefits Section as detailed on your decision letter within one month of the date on the decision letter.
- If you cannot appeal against the decision you can still ask us to look at it again, See 'Do you want us to look at our decision again?'.
- Remember, if the appeal tribunal finds you have been getting too much money your benefit will be reduced.
What the tribunal looks at
- The tribunal can only look at the evidence, the law and the circumstances at the time we made the decision you are appealing against.
- The tribunal cannot look at changes of circumstances that happened after we made the decision.
- If a change of circumstances could affect your benefit or mean you could claim again, you should report it straight away. Do not wait for the appeal hearing. Contact us using the details shown on your decision letter.
The Appeals Service may not be able to accept your appeal if it is received more than one month after the date on the decision letter. They can only accept a late appeal if there are special circumstances that caused the delay. These could be a death, a serious illness, absence abroad, a postal strike or some other special circumstance.
You should include an explanation of why you could not appeal within one month on the form. A legally qualified tribunal member will look at the reasons you have given for not appealing in time and will decide if your appeal can be accepted. They will look at:
- whether there were special circumstances for the delay
- the length of time since you received the decision
- whether it is in the interests of justice that your appeal is accepted, and
- whether your appeal is reasonably likely to succeed.
The Appeals Service cannot accept a late appeal if the only reason is that you misunderstood the law, or interpretation of the law has changed since the decision was made. Your appeal cannot be accepted if you appeal 13 months or more after the date on the decision letter.
Tribunals are made up of up to two members neither of whom are from the Local Authority and they will be experts on the issues involved in your appeal.
All tribunals have a legally qualified member to help apply the law to your appeal and may also include someone with financial qualifications.
After you have made an appeal
- After you have appealed we will offer you an explanation of our decision if we have not already done this.
- We will look at the decision again if we have not already done this.
- If we agree that the original decision is wrong and the new decision is to your advantage, we will send you a new decision and your appeal will stop. If you do not agree with the new decision, you can appeal against it.
- If we agree that the original decision is wrong but the new decision is not to your advantage, we will send you a new decision. Your appeal will continue against the new decision. You will have another month to comment on the new decision.
- If we do not change the decision, we will send your appeal, and an explanation of the law and facts used to make the decision, to the Appeals Service. We will also include any other relevant papers.
- A copy of the appeal papers will be sent to you and your representative if you have one.
- Read the appeal papers very carefully. If you do not understand something, ask us, an advice centre or solicitor to explain.
- You will also receive a form (TAS1). You must complete this form and send it to the Appeals Service within 14 days of the date the form was sent to you. If you do not, your appeal will stop.
- The form also asks you questions about how you want your appeal to be looked at. You can choose between an oral hearing and a paper hearing. If you choose to go to an oral hearing you will be able to deal with any questions or issues that arise.
This is an appeal hearing which you can go to and;
- The tribunal may ask you questions
- You can ask questions
- You can take someone with you to represent you
- You can call witnesses to give evidence to the tribunal
- One of our representatives may be at the hearing. They may ask you questions and call witnesses.
- If you choose an oral hearing but find you cannot go, you must let the Appeals Service know straight away. You must have a good reason why you cannot go, such as illness. You may be able to arrange another date. If you do not let the Appeals Service know you cannot go to the hearing, the tribunal may hear your appeal without you.
- Oral hearings are usually open to the public, but anyone who goes to the hearing will usually be involved in the appeal. You can ask to have your appeal heard in private.
- If you live abroad and want an oral hearing, let the Appeals Service know you want to go to the hearing or want to send someone to represent you.
The Appeals Service can arrange for your appeal hearing to be:
- as near as possible to the place you arrive in Great Britain
- as near as possible to your representative if you have one
- delayed until you are in Great Britain.
The Appeals Service may pay some of your expenses for going to the tribunal, for example travel costs. If you want more information about expenses, contact the Appeals Service office handling your appeal.
If you live abroad you will have to pay your own fares to and from Great Britain. You may be able to get expenses while you are in Great Britain and the appeal hearing is going on.
This is an appeal hearing which you do not go to.
- You should use the form we will send you with the appeal papers to add any more information which you think will help your case.
- Do not delay sending information as you will not be told the date of a paper hearing.
- The appeal will be heard and the Appeals Service will send you the decision.
- If the tribunal think they need you to go to an oral hearing they can refuse your request for a paper hearing.
If you choose a paper hearing but change your mind, you can choose to have an oral hearing. Write to the Appeals Service straight away.
- You will be given a decision notice explaining the tribunal's decision as soon as possible after the appeal hearing. A copy will be sent to the office that made the original decision.
- You can also ask for a statement of reasons. This gives an explanation of the tribunal's decision including the facts and the law used. You must ask for a statement of reasons within one month of the date you are given or sent the decision notice. You must have a copy of the statement of reasons if you appeal to the Social Security Commissioners, see if you disagree with the tribunal's decision.
- If you want a record of the appeal hearing, you can get a copy of the record of proceedings up to 6 months from the date of the hearing.
- If your appeal is successful, we will usually put the decision right as soon as we receive our copy of the tribunal's decision. We may not put it right straight away if we appeal to the Social Security Commissioners.
If you disagree with the tribunal's decision...
Appeals to the Social Security Commissioners
If you do not agree with the appeal tribunal's decision you may be able to appeal to the Social Security Commissioners. The Commissioners are barristers, solicitors or advocates of not less than ten years standing and are appointed by the Queen on the advice of the Lord Chancellor. They are independent of both the Department for Works and Pensions and the Local Authority.
Who can appeal to the Commissioners?
Appeals can be made by:
- anyone who has already appealed to the Appeals Service
- the Local Authority
- the Department for Works and Pensions.
What you can appeal to the Commissioners about
You can only appeal to the Commissioners on a point of law. You cannot appeal to the Commissioners about:
- questions of facts
- a tribunal's findings or conclusions.
How to appeal
- Your decision letter from the Appeals Service will tell you what to do if you are unhappy with the decision. Read this carefully.
It tells you important time limits for your appeal.
- You cannot appeal unless you first get the statement of reasons for the tribunal's decision. See The Result section on this page.
- You should read the statement of reasons carefully. If you think the tribunal did not apply the law correctly, you can apply for leave to appeal to the Commissioners. You must do this within one month of the date the statement of reasons was sent to you.
- If you appeal to the Commissioners, you must send the statement of reasons with your application. If you do not, your application may not be looked at.
- A legally qualified tribunal member will decide if your appeal can be sent to the Commissioners or if the appeal should be looked at again by a different tribunal.
- You can ask an advice centre, solicitor or another suitable person or organisation to help with your application.
Late applications for a statement of reasons or for leave to appeal to the Commissioners can only be accepted if there are special circumstances or special reasons that caused the delay. You will need to show why you were not able to make your request on time.