Housing benefit revisions and appeals

You usually have one month to challenge a housing benefit decision you don't agree with, but later requests can sometimes be accepted.

Reviewing your housing benefit decision

If you disagree with a council's decision about your housing benefit, you can ask it to reconsider the decision.

The council must look at its decision again to see if it should be changed.

Ask the council to reconsider your housing benefit if you think it has not assessed your claim correctly, for example, if you have three children but only two have been included in your assessment.

You can ask for the council to reconsider its decision if, for example, the housing benefit department:

  • turns down your application or says you are no longer entitled to housing benefit
  • says you must repay overpaid housing benefit
  • refuses to pay your housing benefit directly to your landlord to help you budget

You can also request a review if you asked for your claim to be backdated but the council refused.

When to ask for a review

You must write to the council within one calendar month of the date on the decision letter you receive from the housing benefit office.

You can also write to the council and ask it to explain in writing the full reasons for its decision. If this happens, you'll get extra time to challenge the decision.

The days between the council receiving your letter asking for reasons and replying to you don't count towards the one-month time limit.

How to ask for a review

Put your request in writing. Explain why you think the decision is wrong. Include evidence to support your housing benefit request.

For example:

  • send your child benefit award letter if the council is wrong about the number of children you have
  • send photocopies of payslips if the council has wrong information about your wages

Take the letter and evidence to the council offices if possible. Get a receipt, including the date you handed in the information.

Use recorded delivery or get a certificate of posting if you post the letter or keep a note of the date of posting with a photocopy of what you sent.

Find your council's website on Gov.uk

Late applications for a review

If you are outside the one-month time limit, you can make a late request for a revision. You will usually need a good reason for applying late.

The maximum time limit for a late request is 13 months from the date of the decision.

When making a late application, explain why it is reasonable to grant your request and why you have a strong case. Include details of any special circumstances that meant it was not possible to make your request any sooner.

Any time applications

In some circumstances you can ask for an 'any time revision'. This means that there is no time limit for requesting the council to reconsider its decision.

The housing benefit department can only make an any time revision if:

  • they made an official error
  • there was a mistake about or ignorance of something that affected the claim
  • you received another benefit that meant you should have received housing benefit
  • you had a successful appeal against a decision

How the council reviews a decision

The council looks at the original decision to decide if it should be changed.

They may ask for further information and must consider any evidence you provide within a month of being asked for it. 

The council writes 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 within time. You may get a lump-sum payment. 

Appeal to a housing benefit tribunal

You can write to your council’s housing benefit office to ask for an appeal at a First-tier tribunal if, for example:

  • the council doesn't change the decision on your housing benefit claim after you ask for a review
  • instead of asking the council to reconsider its decision

You may have to use a special form from your council or you could send a letter. This will be forwarded to the tribunal with the council’s response.

You will be asked whether you want to attend your hearing in person. A judge will normally make a decision about your case on the day.

It can take between 3 and 8 months in total for your appeal to be decided at a First-tier tribunal.

Complain about a council's handling of your claim

Use your council's formal complaints process to complain if you are not satisfied with how the council manages your housing benefit affairs.

Your council's website explains how to make a complaint. Head to Gov.uk to find your local council's details.

Complain to the Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman if you're not satisfied with the response.

You can also complain to the Ombudsman if the council doesn't reply to your complaint after 12 weeks.

Last updated 26 Apr 2016 | © Shelter

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