You usually have 1 month to challenge a housing benefit decision. Later requests can sometimes be accepted.
Decisions you can get reviewed
You can ask the council to review a decision about your housing benefit claim.
For example, you might want to do this if the council:
- haven’t assessed your claim correctly. For example, if you have 3 children but only 2 have been included in their assessment
- turn down your application or say you’re no longer entitled to housing benefit
- say you must repay overpaid housing benefit
- refuse to pay housing benefit directly to your landlord to help you budget
- won't backdate your housing benefit
Get more help with asking for a review from a benefits adviser. Search for your nearest Citizens Advice.
How to ask for a review
Put your request in writing and explain why you think the decision is wrong.
Include evidence to support your request, such as:
- your child benefit award letter if the council are wrong about how many children you have
- photocopies of payslips if the council have wrong information about your wages
It’s best to take your written request and evidence to the council’s housing benefit department in person. Get a receipt stating the date you provided the information.
If you can’t deliver your request by hand, you could use recorded delivery or get a certificate of posting.
Alternatively, keep a note of the date you post the information with a photocopy of what you sent.
Some councils have an online appeal form you can download.
Time limits for requesting a review
The council will send a letter explaining why they made their decision.
If you want to request a review, you must write to the council’s housing benefit department within 1 calendar month of the date on this letter.
You can also ask the council to provide more information about their decision. They should do this in 2 weeks. The time you spend waiting for more information doesn’t count towards the 1 month you have to request a review.
You can make a request for a revision after 1 month if you have a good reason, such as being in hospital.
The time limit for a late request is 13 months from the date of the original decision.
When making a late application, explain why you couldn’t make your request sooner.
No time limit
You can ask the housing benefit department to review a decision at any time if there has been an official error. For example, the council got the law wrong.
How the council change a decision
The council look at the original decision to decide if it should be changed.
If they ask for more information, you’ll usually have 1 month to provide it.
The council write to you with a review decision explaining:
- if and how your entitlement has changed
- whether you can appeal to a tribunal
If you’re entitled to increased housing benefit payments, the council must backdate these to the date of the original decision as long as you asked for a review in the time limit. You may get a lump-sum payment.
Appeal to a housing benefit tribunal
You can write to your council’s housing benefit department to ask for an appeal at the first-tier tribunal. For example, you can do this:
- if the council don’t change the decision after you ask for a review
- instead of asking the council to reconsider their decision
It can take between 3 and 8 months in total for your appeal to be decided at a first-tier tribunal.
The council may have a special form or you might have to send them a letter. This will be forwarded to the tribunal with the council’s response.
You will be asked whether you want to go to the hearing. If you don’t go, the judge will look at the information you provide.
A decision will normally be made on the same day.
Complain about the council
Use your council's formal complaints process if you’re not satisfied with how your claim is managed.
Your council's website will explain how to make a complaint. Find your local council on GOV.UK.
Complain to the Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman if you're still not satisfied after you complain.
You can also complain to the ombudsman if the council don’t reply to your complaint after 12 weeks.
Last updated 07 Feb 2019 | © Shelter
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