If you aren’t happy with the council’s decision about your Housing Benefit claim, you may be able to appeal. Most matters concerning housing benefit claims carry a right of appeal, for example the calculation of income, the benefits start date or the calculation and recovery of an overpayment. Some administrative decisions do not carry a right of appeal. We’ll let you know if the matter you are disputing does not carry the right of appeal.

There is a four-stage appeal process:

  1. Request further information on the decision
  2. Request a review
  3. Appeal to an independent tribunal
  4. Appeal to an upper tribunal

A request for a review means that the council will look again at its decision regarding a housing benefit claim, to make sure it was done correctly, or will change the decision if there are grounds for doing so.

An appeal means that a tribunal, independent of the council and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), will consider the council’s decision.

To discuss the appeals process in more detail, please contact us at Housing Benefit on:

1. Request further information

A person affected can legally query the council’s decision and request further information about the decision. A person affected means:

  • A claimant
  • Someone acting on behalf of the claimant appointed by the Courts
  • Someone who the council agrees is appointed to act on behalf of the claimant
  • A landlord or agent – only in matters relating to whom payment of benefit is to be made
  • Any person from whom an overpayment is to be recovered

This means that only the claimant can ask the council to revise a decision concerning the calculation of a claimant’s entitlement; and that the landlord or agent can only ask the council to revise decisions about whether payment should be made to a landlord/agent and about overpayments which are to be recovered from the landlord/agent.

The council will give an explanation, sometimes over the phone. However, a person affected can ask the council to provide a written statement of reasons at any time. The statement of reasons explains how the council reached its decision, but does not affect your right to appeal further.

The time taken for the council to provide the statement of reasons may extend the time limit for requesting a revision or seeking an appeal to the Tribunals Service.

2. Request a review of the council's decision

To request a review of the Housing Benefit decision, the affected person must write to the council within one calendar month of the date on the notification letter.

The one-month time limit is only ever extended in exceptional circumstances, and never more than 13 months after the notification letter was issued. To request an extension to the time limit, write to the council explaining why you did not appeal within the time limit.

After reconsidering its decision the council will write to the person affected stating that the decision has been changed or explaining why it will stay the same. The council may request further information from the person affected before it makes a final decision. The person must provide the information within one month of the request.

3. Appeal to an independent Tribunals Service

If you are not happy with the result of the council review of your Housing Benefit claim, you can appeal to an independent tribunal and ask it to consider the council’s decision. This has to be done by writing to the council in the first instance (not emailing), within one month of the date on the decision notification letter.

You don’t have to attend a tribunal.  When you get the letter from the Tribunal Service telling you the date and time of your tribunal, they will ask whether or not you’ll be attending.  If you do wish to attend, tribunals are usually held locally, and a friend or supporter can accompany you.

In most cases tribunals consist of a legally qualified person acting as tribunal judge, and maybe a clerk to the tribunal.  Portsmouth City Council may send a representative, and a financially qualified person may also be present if there are complicated financial matters to be considered.

If you or the council feel that the Tribunal’s decision is wrong in law, there is one further avenue of appeal open to you.

4. An appeal to the Upper Tribunal

If the council or the person affected feels that the decision of the first tribunal is wrong in law they can seek leave to appeal to the Upper Tribunal.