When we have made a decision about your claim?
Once we have received all the information we need to make a decision about your benefit claim we are obliged to:
- Reach a decision within 14 days of having all the relevant information, or as early as is practical thereafter
- We must notify you of the decision we have reached
- And we must attempt to make payment within 14 days, or as early as is practical thereafter.
However, we are not required to make a decision on any claim that:
- Is not made in the proper manner or at the correct time
- Or has been withdrawn, in writing, by the claimant.
Should a claim be made which is unsupported by the necessary evidence to substantiate whether you are entitled to benefit, we will make a decision based upon the information we have to hand. In all cases we will assume that you do not meet the conditions for entitlement and we will notify you of this decision.
What will the decision notification letter tell me?
We are statutorily required to include the following information in your decision letter:
- How we calculated your applicable amount
- How we calculated your income and capital
- How we calculated your eligible rent or your Local Housing Allowance amount
- The amount of any non dependant deductions being subtracted from your benefit
- The weekly amount of Housing and Council Tax Benefit that you entitled to (if any)
- The day upon which your benefit will begin
- The manner in which you will receive your benefits
- The reasons why you are not entitled to Housing and / or Council Tax Benefit
- We will inform you that you have the right to ask for a written statement of reasons, and the manner and timing of how you can obtain this
- We will tell you how you can ask for a reconsideration of the decision we have made, and the appeal rights that you have regarding the decision
- We will inform you of your duty to notify the Council of any changes in your circumstances. This statement will also tell you what changes you need to advise us of.
What do I do if I disagree with your decision?
If we send you a decision about your Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit and you disagree with it, you can ask us to look at that decision again or you can appeal to an independent tribunal run by the Tribunals Service.
You must write and tell us why you think your benefit decision is wrong, and whether you would like us to look at your claim again or pass it to the Tribunals Service, within one month of the date on the letter explaining our decision.
What happens next?
We will look through your claim again, taking into account any further information you have provided. We will decide whether we can reconsider the decision we originally made and write to you to tell you that we have reached a new decision. If we do reconsider our original decision you will receive a new benefit decision letter and new appeal rights.
While we reconsider the decision, the appeals time limit of one month is suspended.
If we decide not to change our decision or we decide to pay you less benefit and you have already asked us to pass the case to the Tribunal Service then we shall do this.
If we decide not to change our decision or we decide to pay you less benefit, and you have not asked us to pass the case to the Tribunal Service, the suspended time limit of one month recommences from the date of the original decision, ignoring the time between receiving your request and replying to it. This means you do not lose the right to an independent appeal process by first asking the Council to look at the decision again.
The Tribunals Service
If your appeal is passed to the Tribunals Service you will be sent a copy of the Council’s case which you should read carefully. If you do not understand it you can ask us to explain it to you or get help from an advice centre or a solicitor. You will also be sent a TAS1 form asking you whether you wish your appeal to be dealt with in writing or by attending in person. You have 14 days to return your TAS1 form.
If you choose to attend the appeal hearing in person you can take someone with you to help you state your case such as a solicitor or a friend. There will usually be a person from the Council attending to state our case and the Members of the Tribunal may ask you questions about why you think the Council’s decision is wrong.
If you choose not to attend the hearing, the tribunal will make a decision about your appeal based on what you have written.
At both types of hearing, the Members of the Tribunal will look at the evidence, the law and the circumstances at the time we made the decision you are appealing against. They will write to you and to the Council with their decision, and the Council will implement it straightaway.