Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction
Once you have received your notification letter telling you how we have calculated your benefit, you can ask us to take another look at your claim if you disagree with the decision that has been made.
You can request:
- A full statement of reasons of the decision that has been made
- A request for a review of the decision, stating your grounds
- Appeal against the decision, stating your grounds
Under what grounds can I dispute a decision?
The most common grounds for appeal tend to be the following:
- A dispute over the start date of a claim
- The Income or capital taken into account within the assessment
- A dispute regarding overpaid Housing/Council Tax Benefit
- You feel that a mistake has been made within your benefit calculation
- A dispute regarding the refusal of a backdating request
Are all decisions appealable?
In some cases, there is no right of appeal against a Housing/Council Tax Benefit decision that we make, and we will write and let you know whether this is the case. For example, there is no right of appeal to an Independent Tribunal (The Appeals Service), regarding the Rent Officer's valuation of your accommodation, however there are other mechanisms whereby a review of such a decision can be made.
How do I appeal?
All requests for either a "Full Statement of Reasons" of the initial decision, a "Request for a review of the decision", or to submit an "appeal against the decision", Must be submitted in writing, within 1 calendar month of the date of the notification letter. You may also wish to use the :Appeals Form(PDF, 51Kb)
You Must state within your appeal:
- The date of the benefit decision you are disputing
- The grounds for your appeal, (providing any supporting documentation where applicable)
- Sign and date your appeal
The letter should be addressed to The Benefit Supervisor.
What happens next?
Once we receive your letter, this will be passed to our "Benefit Supervisor", who will send a reply to you, normally within 6 – 8 weeks, outlining the results of the reconsideration. You will be advised whether the original decision has stayed the same or changed, and the reasons behind the decision. If the decision which you disagree with does not carry the right of appeal, you will be notified of this. .
How can I find out the progress of my appeal?
You can telephone, fax or email by clicking on the Contacts link on the top lefthand side of this page. We are open between 9am – 5pm, Monday – Friday, or visit our office between these hours.
It is important to add, that our current Service Standard is to answer all letters relating to appeals, within 6 – 8 weeks of receiving them, and we would ask you to bear this in mind when contacting us.
What happens if my appeal is unsuccessful?
Where you have appealed a decision, and we have been unable to amend it, in some instances, there is a further right of appeal to an Independent Tribunal, that is not part of the Council.
You will be notified in writing whether your appeal is to be referred to "The Appeals Service", (A Branch of the Department for Work & Pensions who now hear Housing/Council Tax Benefit Appeals). If this is the case, we will prepare a written submission, which outlines our reasons for disallowing your appeal, and this will be sent to both "The Appeals Service", and to yourself, with further details of how to pursue your appeal.
When will the Tribunal Hearing take place to decide my appeal?
Generally, "The Appeals Service" hear Housing/Council Tax Benefit Appeals within 8 – 13 weeks of receiving the Local Authority's appeal submission, and the "TAS 1 pre-enquiry Hearing Form" from the claimant.
What happens if I am facing imminent eviction, through the non-payment of Housing Benefit, and my appeal is against this decision?
You should, within your appeal outline the circumstances, and provide written confirmation from your landlord, that eviction proceedings have been instigated against you. Upon receipt of this information, we will look at the benefit decision again, and where we are unable to change it, we will prepare a written submission, which will be forwarded to both "The Appeals Service" and to yourself.
In these circumstances, "The Appeals Service" will fast-track your appeal hearing.
What happens if my appeal succeeds at Tribunal?
Where the appeal is found in your favour at the Tribunal Hearing, the Local Authority will amend the original benefit decision accordingly. The only instance where this may not be possible, is where the Local Authority feel that there may be grounds for challenging the legal basis of the decision.
Is there a further right of appeal against the Tribunal's Decision?
If your appeal fails at the Tribunal Hearing, this is generally the end of the appeals process. However, if you/your representative consider that the decision is incorrect in law, there may be grounds for requesting a copy of the Chairman's "Statement of Reasons", with a view to seeking "Leave to Appeal" to the Social Security Commissioners.
Where this is the case, "The Appeals Service" will provide details of this process following the Tribunal Hearing.
If you have not registered an appeal against a benefit decision within the 1-month dispute period, you can request that a late appeal be considered, and this request must be submitted in writing within 13 months of the decision that you are disputing.
You should outline the reasons why the appeal is being made late, and the grounds for your appeal.
We will write and let you know whether or not we can accept the late appeal, given the circumstances you outline, and where your appeal is accepted, it will follow the same process as under the heading "What happens next"?.
In the event that we cannot accept your late appeal, we will arrange for your letter to be sent to "The Appeals Service", and they will make the final decision as to whether your appeal can be accepted into the system.
"The Appeals Service" will notify you of their decision.
Reviews Council Tax - Reduction
Where an individual is dissatisfied with the council tax reduction decision made by Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar they can, provided it is done within two months of that decision, seek a review of the decision by writing to their us requesting a review. A review of eligibility for Council Tax Reduction will consider the amount of income a person has with the amount that a person needs to live on (their applicable amount) this will vary depending on the circumstances of the individual and their dependents.
The request for review must state the reasons why the individual thinks the council tax reduction decision is incorrect. The local authority must consider the request and reply with their decision in writing within 2 months. In Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar a request for a review of Council Tax Reduction should be sent to Revenues and Benefits Manager, Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar, Sandwick Rd, Stornoway, HS1 2BW
If after receiving a review decision by the Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar you remain dissatisfied then you can seek an independent ruling from the Council Tax Reduction Review Panel who will conduct a further review.
A further review by the Council Tax Reduction Review Panel can only be requested after the Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar has carried out an internal review.
The only exception to this is if you do not receive a written response from Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar within two months of writing to us requesting a review. If this occurs the individual or their representative can request in writing an independent ruling from the Council Tax Reduction Review Panel.
The Council Tax Reduction Review Panel is an independent body which is an addition to the Scottish Tribunals Service, providing an additional review service to safeguard individual’s rights to administrative justice when assessing an individual’s eligibility for Council Tax Reduction. They will consider the facts presented to them and give an independent ruling as to whether the decision made by your local authority is correct or not.
An application for further review should be made directly by the individual applicant or their representative in writing to the:
Council Tax Reduction Review Panel
450 Argyll Street
Further information, including application forms, are available via their website http://counciltaxreductionreview.scotland.gov.uk/index.htm or by telephoning 0141 242 0141.
When notified by the Council Tax Reduction Review Panel of a further review Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar will forward the decision regarding the review and the supporting documentation from the Council Tax Reductions Review Panel. This includes copies of the notification of review to the applicant, responses to that notice, relevant extracts from the applicants Council Tax Reductions application, summary of response to review and any other supporting communications.
Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar will also forward a copy of the documentation we are submitting to the Council Tax Reduction Review Panel to the applicant at this time, prior to the hearing.
Information regarding the Council Tax Reduction Review Panel including the extent of their powers is available via their website at http://counciltaxreductionreview.scotland.gov.uk/
Further information regarding Council Tax Reduction, how it works, FAQs and Reviews are also available via the Scottish Government website at : http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Government/local-government/17999/counciltax/CTR
Other Help and Advice
You may wish to seek Independent legal advice to assist you with your appeal.
The Citizens Advice Bureau can help/represent you with your appeal. Their contact details can be found via the following links: