Housing benefit reconsiderations and appeals
Affected people can ask the local authority to reconsider its housing benefit decision, appeal to the tribunal or complain to the Ombudsman.
Who is entitled to a notification of a decision
Every decision about housing benefit must be notified to each 'person affected' by it. This means:
an appointee when the claimant is unable to act on their own behalf
the landlord or agent in relation to a decision not to make direct payments
anyone, including the landlord, from whom the authority decides to recover an overpayment
Ways the decision can be challenged
A claimant or any other 'person affected' who wishes to challenge a decision normally has the option of:
asking the local authority to reconsider its decision
appealing to the First-tier tribunal
A claimant can appeal if the local authority does not change its decision after asking for a reconsideration.
The local authority can be asked to reconsider any decision, but not all decisions can be appealed to the First-tier tribunal. For details see the schedule to the regulations.
Where the claimant has no right to appeal they may be able to complain to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman. For example, if there were long delays or maladministration.
Reconsideration of a decision
When the local authority receives a request for reconsideration, it must reconsider the decision in question and notify the person affected of the outcome.
Appeal against a decision
When the local authority receives an application for an appeal, it first reconsiders the decision in question (unless it has already done so).
If it is able to alter the decision in the applicant's favour, the appeal 'lapses' (does not go ahead) – even if the applicant has not received everything they asked for in the appeal. Otherwise, the authority must refer the appeal to the First-tier tribunal.
There may be:
an oral hearing which the applicant and/or their representative can attend
a paper hearing, where the decision will be made on the documentation alone
The tribunal's decision is issued in writing and is binding.
The First-tier and Upper tribunals are independent of the local authority. They are administered by HM Courts and Tribunals Service.
Time limits for reconsideration request
A claimant or any other affected person must request a reconsideration within one month of the date on the decision letter.
Where the reasons for the decision were not provided by the local authority the claimant can request a written statement of reasons. The one-month time limit will run from the date the authority provides the written statement.
Out of time requests
The time limit to request a reconsideration can be extended up to 13 months where:
a claimant requests an extension of time
a claimant gives reason for the late request
the request has merit
there were special circumstances which meant the claimant could not have requested the revision in time
'Any time' revisions
A reconsideration of some decisions can be requested at any time, ie there is no time limit. The main grounds for an 'any time revision' include cases where:
there has been an official error
a mistake about or ignorance of facts has led to a claimant being overpaid
another benefit has been awarded which affects the original claim
a rent officer’s redetermination resulted in an increase in the ‘maximum rent’ or local housing allowance rate
Time limits for appeal
An appeal must normally be made within 1 calendar month of the date the decision was sent or given to the claimant.
If no written explanation was provided with the decision then the applicant has one month from the date of notification of that decision to request a written 'statement of reasons'.
If a statement of reasons is requested, the applicant has 14 days to appeal after:
the expiry of the month from the original date of notification, or
the date the written statement of reasons is provided if this is later
Late appeals may be accepted if there are special circumstances and/or if it is in the interests of justice to do so. However, applications outside the absolute time limit of 13 months from the date of notification of the decision cannot be allowed. The First-tier tribunal has no power to extend this time limit.
Complaints to the Ombudsman
A claimant can make a complaint to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman if they are dissatisfied with the way the housing benefit claim was handled, for example if there were long delays before the claimant received any money.
The Ombudsman service investigates complaints against local authorities and issue recommendations to the local authority if it finds maladministration. A claimant must give the local authority the opportunity to investigate the complaint before the Ombudsman service will investigate.
One Ombudsman investigation found that a council had wrongly taken possession action through the courts and instructed bailiffs to collect council tax arrears while the complainant's benefit claim was unresolved. The council had to apologise, write off a housing benefit overpayment and an outstanding balance on her council tax account, and pay one week's housing benefit and council tax payment, and additional compensation.
Last updated: 12 March 2021
reg 3(1) Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit (Decisions and Appeals) Regulations 2001 SI 2001/1002; Wirral MBC v Salisbury Independent Living Ltd  EWCA Civ 84.
reg 16(1) and Sch. Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit (Decisions and Appeals) Regulations 2001 SI 2001/1002.
reg 4 Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit (Decisions and Appeals) Regulations 2001 SI 2001/1002.
reg 4(1) Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit (Decisions and Appeals) Regulations 2001 SI 2001/1002.
reg 20 Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit (Decisions and Appeals) Regulations 2001 SI 2001/1002.
Tribunal Procedure (First-tier Tribunal)(Social Entitlement Chamber) Rules SI 2008/2685.
Report 16 016 533 - City of Bradford MDC.
regs 2, 4(1)(a) and 10A Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit (Decisions and Appeals) Regulations 2001 SI 2001/1002 as amended.
reg 5 Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit (Decisions and Appeals) Regulations 2001 SI 2001/1002 as amended.
regs 4(2)(a) and (b),(3) and (7B) Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit (Decisions and Appeals) Regulations 2001 SI 2001/1002 as amended.
rules 12, 23 and Sch.1 Tribunal Procedure (First-tier Tribunal) (Social Entitlement Chamber) Rules 2008 SI 2008/2685, as amended.
regs 4-5,18-20 Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit (Decisions and Appeals) Regulations 2001 SI 2001/1002.
rule 23 Tribunal Procedure (First-tier Tribunal) (Social Entitlement Chamber) Rules 2008 SI 2008/2685, as amended by rule 3 Tribunal Procedure (Amendment No. 2) Rules 2009 SI 2009/1975.
Local Government Ombudsman Investigation (Northampton BC) 05/B/16773, 27 June 2007.