Housing benefit revisions and appeals

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.
  • 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 if you have it. For example, copies of payslips if the council have wrong information about your wages.

It’s usually 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.

Coronavirus update: You shouldn't go to your council's offices during the coronavirus outbreak. You may be able to ask for a review online.  

Find your council's housing benefit office on GOV.UK

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.

Late requests

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 complaints process if you’re not satisfied with how your claim or review has been dealt with.

Find your local council website on GOV.UK and search for the complaints process.

Complain to the Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman if:

  • you're still not satisfied with the council's response
  • you don't get a response after 12 weeks

Coronavirus update: The Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman is not investigating complaints during the coronavirus outbreak.


Last updated 04 Apr 2020 | © Shelter

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