Housing benefit appeals

If you disagree with a decision made by Tower Hamlets benefits service you can:

  • ask for a detailed written explanation (called a statement of reasons)
  • ask us to look at the decision again 
  • appeal the decision and ask for it to be looked at by the tribunals service

How to make an appeal

You must make your appeal in writing by one of the following methods:

Further information is available on the appeal form. You can also telephone the benefits service on 0207 364 5000.

You can ask someone to help you write your appeal but you must still sign it. You may find it useful to get help from an advice centre such as a Citizens Advice Bureau.

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Time limits

You must make sure your request reaches us within one calendar month of the date of the decision being disputed.

If you ask for a statement of reasons first any time spent providing the statement of reasons will not count towards the one month time limit.

If you delay longer than one month your appeal may still be considered. However  you must explain, in writing, the reason for the delay at the same time that you make your appeal.  We will decide if this is reasonable before looking at your appeal.

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Which decisions can be appealed?

Appealable decisions include those about:

  • your income, your savings, who lives in your household
  • how much of your rent is taken into account
  • when your entitlement starts/ ends
  • when a change of circumstances starts being taken into account
  • an overpayment and the recovery of an overpayment

Non-appealable decisions include those about:

  • your rent if it is as a result of a decision made by the rent service or the amount of the local housing allowance set by the rent service
  • the amount of social security benefits you are getting
  • the information and evidence you are required to provide as set out in the benefit rules and regulations
  • the benefit rules and regulations themselves
  • where we make a decision not to accept a late request from you asking it to reconsider an earlier decision

We will write and tell you if you dispute a non-appealable decision.

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What happens next?

  • If the decision can be changed in your favour you will be notified and your existing appeal will not proceed any further. (You have a new right of appeal against this decision).
  • If the decision is changed but you get less benefit as a result, you will be notified but your existing appeal will still proceed
  • If the decision cannot be changed you will be notified and your appeal will still proceed.

If your appeal proceeds we will write a submission explaining how the decision was reached and answer any queries you have raised. This is sent to the tribunals service and a copy is sent to you (and your representative if someone is helping you).

A letter and pre-paid envelope will also be sent. The letter asks you to confirm that you still wish to proceed with your appeal and if you want to attend the hearing. If you do, you must tick the check boxes on the letter and return it in the pre-paid envelope. If you do not the tribunals service will assume you do not want to go ahead with a hearing and will not arrange one.

Upon receipt of the submission and your confirmation letter the Tribunals Service will arrange a hearing.

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The tribunal hearing

A tribunal usually consists of just one person – the Tribunal Chairman. Although the tribunal is a formal hearing it is not like a court of law. It's purpose is to ensure that we have applied the benefit rules correctly.

You and/or your representative can attend the hearing to explain your appeal. An officer from Tower Hamlets benefits service can attend to explain how the decision was reached. However, neither party has to attend and the Tribunal Chairman will still consider your appeal on its merits.

At the end of the hearing the Chairman will make a decision and give a written copy to you and the council officer. A copy of the decision will be posted to you and the council officer depending upon who attended.

The tribunals service is not part of the council. It is independent and makes it's decisions based upon the law and the information made available to it.

Find out more about the tribunals service.

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How to contact us

Tower Hamlets operates a centralised benefit claims processing service and a dedicated benefits call centre both based at the Town Hall where all postal, email and telephone enquiries should be directed. Home visits can be arranged if you are housebound and do not have anyone who can help you.

Benefits Service

Tower Hamlets Town Hall
160 Whitechapel Road
E1 1BJ

Tel: 020 7364 5000 
Fax: 020 7364 7048

Email: benefits@towerhamlets.gov.uk

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