Benefits - your rights

Your rights


What if I'm not happy with the decision made about my council tax reduction and/or housing benefit?

If you are not satisfied with a decision which we have made about your council tax reduction and/or housing benefit you can:

  • ask for an explanation over the telephone
  • ask for a written statement of reasons for the decision.
  • ask us to look again at the decision. This is called a reconsideration.
  • appeal against our decision to an independent appeal tribunal

Any request for either a statement of reasons, a reconsideration or appeal must be in writing and must be received by the council within 1 calendar month of the date of the decision letter.

If you ask for a written statement of reasons

  • you can ask for a written statement in person, by telephone, fax or e-mail
  • we will try to provide this within 14 days of receiving your request
  • if your request is received within the calendar month allowed for asking for a reconsideration or appealing, the time taken to give you the explanation will not count as part of that month

If you ask for a reconsideration

  • you can ask for a reconsideration in writing by letter, fax or e-mail
  • we will try to deal with your request within four weeks
  • your case will be looked at by someone who was not involved in making the decision you disagree with
  • we will tell you in writing whether we have changed the decision or not
  • if we are not able to change the decision in your favour you will have the right to appeal within 1 calendar month. For how you can do this, see below

Please view our Benefits/reductions contact information

If you appeal to an independent tribunal after a reconsideration

You must

  • appeal in writing by letter or fax
  • sign the appeal
  • make sure it reaches the council within one calendar month of the date of the letter telling you about the decision you disagree with
  • identify the decision you are appealing against
  • give the reasons why you think the decision is wrong

We will

  • prepare a submission and send it to the Tribunal Service
  • try to do this within four weeks
  • send you a copy of the submission.

The Tribunal Service will arrange a date for your appeal to be heard and will write to you about this

If you appeal without asking for a reconsideration

You must

  • appeal in writing by letter or fax
  • sign the appeal
  • make sure it reaches the council within one calendar month of the date of the letter telling you about the decision you disagree with
  • identify the decision you are appealing against
  • give the reasons why you think the decision is wrong

What happens next?

  • we will try to deal with your appeal within four weeks
  • your case will be looked at by someone from the benefits service who was not involved in making the decision you disagree with
  • we will tell you in writing whether we have changed the decision or not
  • if we have changed the decision in your favour your appeal will lapse
  • you will have the right to ask for a written statement or reconsideration of the new decision or to appeal against it
  • if we have not changed the decision in your favour we will prepare a submission and send it to the Tribunal Service
  • we will send you a copy of the submission.
  • the Tribunal Service will arrange a date for your appeal to be heard and will write to you about this

About the Tribunal Service

  • the Tribunal Service is completely independent of the council
  • it deals with other Social Security benefit appeals as well as housing and council tax reduction appeals
  • it uses legally qualified people to hear cases

About the hearing

  • you can attend the hearing
  • you can bring someone with you to the hearing
  • you can be represented at the hearing
  • the council will usually send a representative
  • you can claim travel expenses from the Tribunal Service

What happens at the hearing?

  • the tribunal for housing and council tax reduction cases consists of one legally qualified person
  • the tribunal will ask you and the council questions
  • you and the council will have the chance to ask questions
  • you will have the chance to put your case
  • the council will have the chance to put its case
  • you will usually get a decision straight after the hearing
  • if you do not get a decision on the day the Tribunal Service will send it to you within 7 days

What if I ask for a reconsideration more than a month after the decision?

  • the regulations say that a late request can be accepted in certain limited circumstances
  • you will need to ask in writing for the time limit to be extended
  • you will need to give the reasons why your request is late
  • one of the council’s appeals officers will decide whether the request can be accepted

What if I appeal more than a month after the decision?

  • the regulations say that a late appeal can be accepted in certain limited circumstances
  • you will need to ask in writing for the time limit to be extended
  • you will need to give the reasons why your request is late
  • one of the council’s appeals officers will decide whether the appeal can be accepted
  • if the council’s officer thinks the appeal cannot be accepted it will be sent to the Tribunal Service for a legally qualified person to make the final decision

This page was last updated on 09 November 2016