What to do if you think your benefit is wrong
Do you want more information about the decision?
When you have received a letter telling you about an award of housing benefit/council tax reduction and you want more information about the decision you must contact us straight away. This is because if you want us to look at the decision again or if you want to appeal against it, you must do so within one month of the date of the decision letter, not the date you contact the office.
When you contact us you can ask us to explain the reason for the decision or if you want more information ask for a written statement of reasons for the decision if we have not already sent you one. You must do this within one month of the date of the decision letter.
We will send you a statement of reasons as soon as possible. If you still disagree with the decision, you can ask us to look at it again or appeal against the decision. The month you have to ask to look at the decision again or to appeal against it will be extended by the time we took to send the statement of reasons.
Do you want us to look at the decision again?
You must ask us to look at the decision again within one month of the date of the decision letter. If you ask for a written statement of reasons, you will have one month from the date of the decision letter plus the time that we took to send you the statement of reasons. If there are any special circumstances that mean you can't contact us within one month, we may still be able to change the decision. You must tell us what the special circumstances are when you contact us.
What happens next?
When you ask us to look at a decision again, we will check that the decision is correct. A different member of staff will do this. If the decision is wrong we will change it.
If the decision can be changed
- If you asked us to look at our decision again within the time limit, we will change the decision from the date of the original decision.
- If you do not agree with the new decision, you can ask us to look at it again.
- If you asked us to look at our decision again after one month and did not have special circumstances, the decision will usually be changed from the date you asked us.
- We will send you a letter telling you what new decision is.
If the decision cannot be changed
- We will send you a letter telling you that we cannot change it. The letter will confirm the original decision.
- The letter will tell you if you can appeal against the original decision.
- If you can appeal, the one month time limit starts again from the date of the letter confirming the decision.
Appeal against the decision
If you appeal against a decision we have made, your appeal will be considered by an independent appeals tribunal. You do not need a form to make an appeal: a letter of appeal, signed by you and giving reasons why you think the decision is wrong will be acceptable. Ensure you:
- Write down the reasons for your appeal. This is important because the tribunal does not have to look at anything you do not mention.
- Sign the form.
- Send the form back to us within one month of the date of the decision letter.
Remember, if the appeal tribunal finds you have been getting too much money your benefit will be reduced. Appeals against the awards of council tax reduction will initially be dealt with by Warwick District Council. If you are still unhappy with the outcome of this process, you will be advised of further steps that can be taken. You can get help from an advice centre of a solicitor.
- The tribunal can only look at the evidence, the law and the circumstances at the time we made the decision you are appealing against.
- The tribunal cannot look at changes of circumstances that happened after we made the decision.
- If a change of circumstances could affect your benefit or mean you could claim again, you should report it straight away. Do not wait for the appeal hearing. Contact us using the details on your decision letter.
- The Tribunals Service may not be able to accept your appeal if it is received more than one month after the date on the decision letter.
- They can only accept a late appeal if there are special circumstances that caused the delay. These could be a death, a serious illness, absence abroad, a postal strike or some other special circumstance.
- You should include an explanation of why you could not appeal within one month on the appeal form. A legally qualified tribunal member will look at the reasons you have given and will decide if your appeal can be accepted.
Appeals related to council tax reduction
A person may appeal against a decision of a billing authority:
- that a dwelling is a chargeable or exempt dwelling, or
- that a person is liable to pay council tax in respect of such a dwelling whether solely, jointly or as owner, or
- that any calculation made by such an authority in respect of the amount to which they are liable in respect of council tax
Initially, you must appeal in writing to Warwick District Council stating the grounds on which you are aggrieved.
Only those aggrieved by a decision or calculation may appeal. This is normally anyone liable for the council tax bill, whether named on the bill or not. However, you may engage another party to act on your behalf. The appeal will be initially considered and you will be notified that the appeal is either accepted or refused. If the appeal is refused, you will be given reasons for the decision. If you are still not happy with the decision, you may appeal direct to the valuation tribunal. The decision letter will give advice about this.