If you don’t agree with how your benefit has been worked out you can ask us to look at it again. If you still don’t agree you can appeal against our decision.
Disputing a decision
We want to make sure that you are getting the correct amount of benefit you are entitled to. If you think the amount of benefit you receive is wrong you should contact us and explain why.
Remember - the Council's decision is based on benefits legislation. Just because you think a decision is unfair does not mean it is wrong.
You have one calendar month from the date of the decision letter to dispute the decision. It is possible to make a late appeal, but you must have a good reason why it could not be made earlier. The maximum time limit to start a dispute is 13 months from the date of the decision letter.
Who can dispute a decision
Any “person affected” by a decision has the right to dispute a decision. “Person affected” can mean the claimant, an authorised representative/appointee acting on behalf of the claimant or, in certain circumstances a landlord or their agent.
Landlords and their agents can normally only dispute a decision in the following cases:
- Whether or not to make Housing Benefit payments direct to them.
- Where the authority has decided that they are not a “fit and proper” person to receive payments of Housing Benefit.
- Where the authority has decided that an overpayment of Housing Benefit can be recovered from them.
If you disagree with the Council's decision you can use the following options:
- Ask for an explanation or calculation statement. This sets out:
If the decision is wrong it will be corrected and you will be sent a new decision.
- how your benefit/reduction has been calculated,
- the information we have used to make our decision,
- the way any overpayment has been calculated (if applicable)
- the options you now have.
- Ask for a Reconsideration
Where possible, a different Council Officer will look at the decision being disputed. If the decision is wrong it will be corrected and you will be sent a new decision. If the decision is correct we will write to you explaining why and any options you now have.
- Make an appeal to Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service.
Where possible, a different Council Officer will look at the decision being disputed. If the decision is wrong it will be corrected and you will be sent a new decision. If the decision is correct the matter will be referred to Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service.
Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service is independent of the Council. It is an informal court and hearings are held locally, normally at Phoenix House,Thornbury BD3 7BH.
The Court consists of a Judge who will consider all the evidence before making their decision. The Council will provide a file of the evidence and a detailed explanation of why their decision is legally correct.
There are two types of hearing - paper or oral.
Decisions are normally issued at the hearing.
- Paper Hearings: If both you and the Council agree the hearing can take place without anyone being present. The Judge will make their decision based on the paper evidence provided.
- Oral Hearings: Both you and the Council can make verbal representations and question each other. You can bring a representative to the hearing. There will also be a Council Officer there who will assist you if required.
To start the dispute process
Write to us at
Benefit Appeals, Britannia House, Hall Ings, Bradford, BD1 1HX
All disputes must be in English or Welsh and contain the following information:
- Your name and address
- Details of the decision being disputed
- The reasons why you think the decision is wrong.
Please note that if you disagree with a decision regarding overpaid Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction, the only elements of the decision that can be disputed are the amount of the overpaid Benefit/Reduction and how it has been calculated, or whether the overpayment is recoverable and from whom. There is no right of appeal against who the authority chooses to recover from.
You must sign the dispute. Someone else may write the dispute for you but you must sign it, or you can provide written authority for them to act on your behalf in this matter.