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Housing Benefit Reviews, Appeals, Dispute Form and Guidance**Correct as at Oct 2015*

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Housing Benefit Reviews, Appeals, DisputeForm and Guidance

 

 

If you have received a Housing Benefit ‘Decision Notice’ and disagree with the decision that has been made there is a three stage process to be followed:

 

Stage 1 Ask the Council to Review its Decision. (NO COSTS)

 

Stage 2 Take your Housing Benefit case to a Tribunal. (NO COSTS)

 

Stage 3 Judicial Review (YES- LEGAL COSTS)

 

STAGE1: Asking the Council to Review its Decision

If you think the Council has made a wrong decision about your Housing Benefit, you can ask the Council to look at its decision again.

 

What sort of decisions can you ask the Council to look at again?

 

You can ask the council to take another look at its decision if it says:

 

Ø Your application for housing benefit has been turned down.

Ø You aren’t entitled to housing benefit anymore.

Ø You‘re entitled to less housing benefit than you think you should get.

Ø It has paid you too much housing benefit, and wants you to pay some of it back.

Ø It will start paying housing benefit from a certain date, but you think it should be sooner i.e. if you had asked for your claim to be backdated.

Ø It is going to pay your housing benefit direct to your landlord in the future.

 

How to ask the Council to review a Housing Benefit decision

 

You must write to the council within one calendar month of the date on the decision letter. If you leave it later than this, the council may say that it doesn’t have to look at your case.

 

If the council’s letter doesn’t explain why they’ve made the decision, you can ask them to write to you with a proper explanation. If this happens, you’ll get extra time to appeal. The days between the council receiving your letter asking for reasons and replying to you don’t count towards the one-month time limit.

 

In your letter to the council, try to explain clearly why you think the decisionis wrong. Include evidence if possible. For example:

 

Ø If the council is wrong about how many children you have, you could send them your child benefit award letter

Ø If it says that you’re earning more than you actually do, send photocopies of your payslips.

Ø If the figure amounts used to reach the decision are incorrect.

 

It's always best to hand the letter in to the council’s offices - (Always make sure you get a receipt - including the date you handed over the letter - and keep it somewhere safe).

 

If you post the letter – (Always get a certificate of posting and/or use recorded delivery and remember to keep a note of the date of posting, along with a photocopy).

 

What happens when the Council reviews a Housing Benefit decision?

 

Your case will be looked at by a different decision maker from the one who made the original decision.

 

The decision maker will take into account the reasons for the original decision, and any new information you have provided. You may be asked for more information at this point. If this is required the council will write to you again requesting the information they require.

 

You will then get a letter from the council telling you if the decision has been changed or not. The time it takes for the council to decide will depend on how complicated your case is.

 

STAGE 2: Taking Your Case to a Tribunal

 

If you have asked the Council to review its decision and it doesn't change its mind, you may be able to appeal to a tribunal. This will involve a judge looking at your case, and making a decision on it.

 

At a tribunal, a judge will look into your case and make a decision based on your evidence and the council’s evidence. You can attend the hearing if you wish.

 

It’s best seek advice before going down this route, as Tribunals are quite complicated and time-consuming.

 

Are there any Legal costs in Appealing to a Tribunal?

 

NO There aren’t any legal costs

 

What you can’t use a Tribunal for

 

Some decisions made by a Council can’t be taken to a tribunal i.e. those to do with how frequently your benefit is paid.

 

Tribunals also don’t deal with administrative problems, like if there’s been a delay or lack of courtesy from the council. If you think you’ve been treated badly, you should take this up with the Council’s Customer Service Department.

 

Starting your Appeal to Tribunal

 

You can download a Step by Step Guide from the Ministry of Justice website:

 

http://www.justice.gov.uk/tribunals/sscs/appeals

 

You must ask for an appeal in writing. The council may give you a form to fill in, or you (or your adviser) could write a letter.

 

Make it clear what you are appealing against, and why you think the decision is wrong. If possible, include evidence to support your case.

 

Your appeal form or letter must reach the council within one month of the date on the decision letter.

 

If you miss this deadline, you’ll need to ask the council to accept your appeal even though it’s late. Make sure you explain why you are applying late i.e. if you have been ill.

 

If the Council says you haven’t given enough information

 

When the Council looks at your letter, it might decide that you haven’t given proper reasons for an appeal. The Council may write to you and ask for more information.

 

After that, if the Council still thinks you haven’t given enough information, it will ask the Tribunals Service to decide whether your appeal should go ahead. If theTribunal Service is satisfied that you’ve given enough information, the appeal can proceed. If not, your appeal won’t be allowed.

 

Next stages in Appealing against a decision on your Housing Benefit

 

The next step is for the Tribunals Service, which runs courts and tribunals in England and Wales – to decide whether you have a right to appeal or not.

 

If it says that you do have a right of appeal, your appeal can go ahead. If it says you don’t, you won’t be able to carry on with your appeal.

 

You’ll be sent a ‘pre-hearing enquiry form’ if your appeal is given the go-ahead. You must fill this in and send it back within 14 days. The appeal process will end if you don’t send back the form on time. If you can’t meet the deadline, it’s very important to contact the tribunal and let them know why.

 

The form will ask you what sort of hearing you want. This can be either:

 

Ø An Oral Hearing – You or Your Representative will need to go along to the tribunal.

Ø Paper Hearing - You don’t have to attend.

 

An oral hearing gives you a chance to put your case in person and answer any questions about your situation.

 

The form also asks for details of your representative, if you have one. This is so the tribunal can send copies of your appeal papers direct to them.

 

If you need a Translator or Interpreter to attend the hearing, make sure you let the tribunal and your representative know well in advance.

 

Preparing for a Housing Benefit Tribunal Hearing

 

Before the hearing takes place, you’ll need to put together evidence for your case and send it to the tribunal.

 

If you’ve asked for an Oral Hearing, the Tribunal will let you where and when this will be held. They will tell you this at least 14 days before the Hearing takes place. It should be held somewhere you can get to fairly easily. (You will be able to claim travel expenses).

 

If you can’t go because of a medical condition, you can ask for the Hearing to be held at your home.

 

For a Paper Hearing, you won’t be told when it will take place, so make sure you send your evidence in as soon as possible.

 

What happens at a Housing Benefit Tribunal Hearing?

 

The Tribunal will involve the evidence being looked at by a legally qualified judge. They will consider all the facts, take into account what the law says and come to a decision.

 

At an oral hearing, you or your representative will get a chance to explain your situation. If you go to the hearing, try not to be nervous or emotional. Make sure you present the facts as clearly as you can. The council may send someone to put forward their case as well.

 

The judge will usually make a decision that day, or you can wait for the decision to be sent to you in writing.

 

STAGE 3: Judicial Review

 

If you don’t agree with the tribunal’s decision

 

You might be able to appear to another, Higher Tribunal – known as an ‘Upper Tribunal’– if you don’t agree with the decision.

 

It’s only possible to do this if you believe that the Tribunal didn’t apply the law properly.

 

You will need to talk to someone who has specialist knowledge of benefits law, such as a solicitor or a welfare rights officer.

 

Applying for a judicial review of a council’s decision

 

Sometimes it's possible to use a process called 'judicial review' to challenge the council’s original decision in court.

 

Judicial review can only be used to challenge the way the council made the decision, not the actual decision itself. It’s a complicated and expensive legal process, and you’ll need to get help from a solicitor or law centre.

 

Appendix 1 contains Housing Benefit Dispute Form and Guidance (In PDF Format):

Edited by stu007

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I cannot give any advice by PM - If you provide a link to your Thread then I will be happy to offer advice there.

I advise to the best of my ability, but I am not a qualified professional, benefits lawyer nor Welfare Rights Adviser.

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style="text-align:center;"> Please note that this topic has not had any new posts for the last 2203 days.

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