Appeals for Council Tax Support and Housing Benefit decisions
Challenging Council Tax Support decisions
If you disagree with a decision on your Council Tax Support claim you can ask for it to be explained or looked at again.
It is unlikely that a decision will be changed if your Council Tax Support has been awarded correctly according to our local scheme.
However you can challenge the amount of Council Tax you have to pay for any of the reasons below :
- You think that under the local Council Tax Support scheme we should have given you a reduction on the council tax you pay but have not done this
- You think that the amount of reduction we have given you under our local scheme is incorrect
- You think that a decision on your application for a Discretionary Discount Fund payment is wrong
When we review your Council Tax Support claim
If you have asked for the decision to be looked at again we will do this and then we will write to you:
- If we find that an unlawful decision has been made we will change it
- If we cannot change the decision we will explain why we were unable to change it
If you still disagree with the decision after it has been looked at again, or 2 months have passed since you asked for it to be looked at again and you have not received a reply, you can appeal directly to an independent organisation called the Valuation Tribunal.
The Valuation Tribunal will only be able to make sure the Council Tax Support decision has been made correctly according to the local scheme.
Challenging Housing Benefit decisions
When you apply for Housing Benefit we will give you a decision in writing about your claim. If you disagree with it you can:
- Ask us to explain our decision
- Ask us to look at a decision again (PDF, 105KB)
- Appeal against our decision to an independent tribunal
You can ask us to look again at any decision you think is wrong. However there are some decisions you cannot appeal against:
- How often we pay you and by what method
- How we recover an amount we overpaid you
- Any figure laid down in law, such as the capital limit (£16,000 is the upper capital limit - this limit does not apply to Pension Credit guarantee cases)
- The level of Local Housing Allowance or the Broad Market Area on which it is based
- If you think our decision about a Discretionary Housing Payment is wrong
- A decision to apply the benefit cap advised by the Department for Works and Pensions
If you would like independent advice you can get help from your local Citizens Advice bureau.
Explaining our decision
You must do this within 1 month from the date on the decision letter.
If there are special circumstances which mean you cannot write to us within 1 month, you must contact us to explain why, because we may still be able to look at our decision again.
If your request is not received within 13 months of the decision letter the law says that we cannot look at the decision again.
Reviewing your claim
When you ask us to look at your benefit claim again we will check to see if it is correct.
If we can change our decision:
- We may change it from the date of our original decision
- We will send you a letter explaining our new decision
If we cannot change our decision:
- We will send you a letter explaining why
- You will have one more month to appeal to the Tribunal Service
Appeal a decision at a tribunal
If you ask for an appeal (your appeal will go to a first tier tribunal) it will be sent to the Tribunals Service.
It will be heard by an independent tribunal made up of people that do not work for the council.
When you request an appeal it is important that you give all the reasons why you think our decision is wrong as the tribunal does not have to look at anything that you do not mention.
We will send your appeal and an explanation of the law, and facts used to make the decision to the Tribunal Service. You will also receive a form with this information. You must complete the form and send it to the Tribunal Service within 14 days of the date the form was sent to you. You should also include any information which might help your case. If you do not return the form, your appeal will stop.
How your appeal will be heard
The tribunal can only look at the evidence, the law and the circumstances at the time we made the decision you are appealing against.
Tribunal members 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.
You are able to choose how you want your appeal to be looked at, and can request either an oral or paper hearing.
With an oral hearing:
- You can attend the tribunal hearing
- You may be asked questions
- You can ask questions
- You can take someone with you to represent you
The Tribunal Service may pay some of your expenses for going to the hearing.
With a paper hearing:
- You do not need to attend the tribunal hearing
- You must provide any information you think will help your case when sending your appeal for to the Tribunal Service
The Tribunal Service will write to you when they have made their decision.
Making another appeal
If you disagree with a decision made at your first appeal (at a first tier tribunal) you can then appeal to another tribunal (an upper tribunal). These appeals can only be made if a first tier tribunal has made an error of law.