If you've received a letter about your Council Tax Support or Housing Benefit and you think the decision's wrong, you can choose to do one of the following:
- Ask us to explain our decision. This may help you decide if you want to appeal.
- Ask us to look at the decision again. This may be as you have more information that you think may be relevant to your claim, or your circumstances may have changed.
- Appeal against the decision. If we don't change our decision, you may want to make an appeal to an independent tribunal.
Who can make an appeal
To make an appeal, you must be one of the following:
- The person who made the claim.
- Someone who has the authority to act on the behalf of the claimant.
- Someone who's been appointed by the courts.
- A landlord - for Housing Benefit appeals only. (If you're a landlord you can only appeal against an over-payment decision or dispute a decision about a direct payment to you.)
Ask us to explain our decision
You can ask us to explain how we’ve worked out your Council Tax Support or Housing Benefit and the reasons for our decision. We can talk through the decision with you.
If you want a more detailed explanation, you can ask us for a written statement of our reasons using our online form. You need to do this within one month of receiving our decision.
Asking us to provide a statement of reasons doesn’t count towards the time limit for an appeal.
Ask us to look at our decision again
If you don’t agree with our decision about your Council Tax Support or Housing Benefit claim, you can ask us to look at this again. You can do this by filling in our online form.
When we receive your request, a different person will check your claim and we'll write to let you know whether or not we've changed our decision.
If you don’t agree with this decision again, you can make an appeal. You need to do this within:
- two months (from the date of our letter) to appeal a Council Tax Support decision
- one month (from the date of our letter) to appeal a Housing Benefit decision
Appeal a Council Tax Support decision
To make an appeal, fill in our appeal form to ask us to look at your claim again. We'll write to you within two months of receiving your form.
If you disagree with our decision, or you haven’t heard from us within two months, you can appeal directly to the Valuation Tribunal Service by filling in a tribunal appeal form on their website.
The Valuation Tribunal Service is independent of the council. They'll arrange a hearing, which you can attend, or you can ask them to deal with your paperwork on your behalf.
After the hearing they'll write to you with their decision and tell you what you can do next if your appeal's been turned down.
Appeal a Housing Benefit decision
To make an appeal, fill in our online form within:
- one month of receiving your decision letter
- one month of your second decision letter, if you’ve already asked us to look at your claim again
We’ll look at the decision again if we haven’t already done so.
If we think our original decision was wrong and we change it in your favour, we’ll write to let you know. This will stop your appeal. If you disagree with the new decision, you can fill in the appeal form again to restart the appeal process.
If we think the original decision was wrong and we change it, but it’s not to your advantage because your benefit's stayed the same or gone down, your appeal will continue. We’ll then send your information to the independent tribunal service for Housing Benefit appeals.
If you appeal later than one month from the date of your letter, you’ll need to have good reason for doing so and be able to provide evidence. We’ll ask the tribunal service if they'll accept your appeal, based on the evidence you’ve provided.
The maximum time limit for submitting an appeal is 13 months.
If your appeal goes to the tribunal service
The tribunal service is independent of the council. They'll send you a form that you’ll need to fill in and return to them within 14 days. If you don’t do this, your appeal will stop. There'll be a tribunal hearing and you can choose whether you want to attend, or if you want them to deal with your paperwork.
The tribunal service will write to you after the appeal hearing with their decision. If your appeal has been turned down, they’ll tell you what you can do next.