Disputes about housing benefit and council tax support are dealt with differently. If you are disputing a council tax support decision please see our council tax support page.
If you have received a letter about housing benefit and you think the decision is wrong, you can ask us to explain it.
If you still think the decision is wrong after we have explained it, you can then:
- Ask us to look at it again or
- Appeal to an independent tribunal
You must do this within one month of the date on the letter.
If you do, you must contact us straight away either in person, by phone or by writing to us.
If you write to us we will send you a formal written statement of reasons for the decision within 14 days.
If you are unhappy with the decision you can write to us asking us to look at it again. This must be done within one month of the date on the decision letter.
If you have written to us for an explanation of the decision, you will have one month from the date of the decision letter plus the time it takes us to deal with your request for an explanation, to ask us to look at the decision again.
When you write to us, we will look again at our decision. The same person who made the original decision will not do this. Your claim will be checked thoroughly and any more information you have given in your letter will be taken into account.
We may then:
- Decide the decision was correct and not change it or
- Change the decision to your advantage which means you receive more benefit or
- Change the decision to your disadvantage, which means you will receive less benefit.
Whatever the outcome, we will write to you and let you know what we have decided and why we have reached that decision. We aim to do this within 28 days of your request.
If you ask us to look at the decision again and it is not changed in your favour, you can then appeal and your case will be passed to an independent tribunal. You must appeal within one month of our letter. The Appeals Service may invite you to a hearing of your case.
If you appeal we will also look at our decision again. If we do not change our decision in your favour, we will automatically pass your case to the Appeals Service.
If you do, the council must receive your appeal within one month of the date on the decision letter. The appeal must:
- Be in writing and signed
- State what decision you are appealing against
- Give the reasons why you think our decision is wrong
Landlords and agents cannot appeal against most decisions made by the council. They can only appeal against decisions that directly affect them. These are:
- A decision about who the payments of housing benefit should go to
- A decision that an overpayment of housing benefit is recoverable
- A decision that the overpayment can be recovered from the landlord or agent
Any other decision made by the council can only be appealed by the claimant or their appointee.
It should be noted that if the council decide an overpayment can be recovered from the landlord/agent or the claimant, there is no right of appeal against the council’s decision to recover the overpayment from just one of the parties.
If you want to dispute our decision please complete, sign and return an appeals form:
We can also send you a copy of the disputes and appeals form. Our contact details are shown on this page.
If your appeal is not received within one month of our decision, you can request an extension of time giving the reasons why you could not appeal within one month. If we accept your reasons, your appeal will continue.
If we do not accept your reasons, your appeal and request for an extension of time will be sent to the Appeals Service. If the Appeals Service accept your reasons or consider your appeal has a reasonable chance of success, your appeal will continue.
The Appeals Service will decide your appeal at an appeal tribunal. The tribunal is made up of a judge who is independent of the council.
We aim to pass your case to the Appeals Service within 28 days of receiving your appeal.If your case is passed to the Appeals Service, you will be sent a copy of the council’s case.
The Appeals Service will then contact you asking you whether you wish your appeal to be dealt with:
- In writing or
- By attending in person
It is important you reply to the Appeals Service so they have all the details to proceed with your appeal.
If you choose to attend in person, you will be able to deal with any questions or issues that arise. People who attend tribunals usually do better than those who do not. Tribunals are generally held at the magistrates court in Lancaster.
At the tribunal, the judge will look at the evidence, the law and the circumstances at the time we made the decision. They will decide whether the council’s decision is correct and will notify you in writing of their decision.
The Appeals Service may pay some of your expenses for going to the hearing, for example travel costs. If you want more information about expenses the Tribunals Service can be contacted at 36 Dale Street, Liverpool L2 5UZ or by telephone on 0300 123 1142.
If your appeal is successful, we will usually put our decision right within seven days of the tribunal’s decision. We may not put it right if we consider the tribunal has made an error of law and we decide to appeal to the upper tribunal.
If your appeal is unsuccessful you may be able to appeal further to the upper tribunal. You should contact the Appeals Service if you wish to appeal further.
If you want a full explanation of the appeal tribunal’s decision you should write to them asking for a statement of reasons.
Last updated: 24 November 2016