AD01 Appeals Overview
AD01/01072013/v10 : replaces BA01 v10
The Appeals and Disputes Team deal with Appeals and Disputes relating to Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit, Council Tax Reduction Council Tax, Discretionary Housing Payment, Discretionary Social Payments, post 16-SEN Transport and Blue Badge appeals. The procedures listed below refer to Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit Appeals and Disputes. The procedures for dealing with other appeal types are detailed within that subject's procedure.
What is an Appeal?
There are 3 options available to a customer if they disagree with a decision made by the Benefits Service; they can request an explanation of the decision, known as a statement of reasons request, they can request the authority to revise the decision or they can make an outright appeal.
1. Request for explanation (statement of reasons)
If the customer requests an explanation of the decision it is dealt with by the processing teams. If a statement of reasons request is received by Appeals it is to be re-indexed and forwarded to an appropriate processing tray to be dealt with.
2. Revision requests
A revision request is defined as a dispute against a decision which is not classed as an Appeal. These are dealt with by the Appeals Officers.
These are any disputes against a decision which is not classed as a revision request. Most disputes will come under the appeal category. All Appeals are dealt with by the Appeals Team as described below in this working practice.
Who can appeal against a decision?
The claimant or a person with the claimant's written authority can appeal against a decision.
Landlords also have the right to appeal against decisions made which directly affect them, e.g. if an overpayment is recoverable from them.
Format and timescales
All appeals must be made in writing and signed by the appellant (or their representative).
All appeals must be received within the time limits stipulated in Schedule 1 of the Tribunal Procedure (First-tier Tribunal) (Social Entitlement Chamber) Rules 2008.
The current time limit is that an appeal must be received within one calendar month of the date the appellant was notified of the decision. If an appeal is received outside this timescale it is treated as a late (out of time) appeal and processed as described below.
A request for further information about how or why a particular decision was made is not an appeal; this is a request for a 'statement of reasons'. If a statement of reasons is requested new appeal rights are granted as listed in schedule 1 of the Tribunal Procedure (First-tier Tribunal) (Social Entitlement Chamber) Rules 2008.
All members of staff are responsible for ensuring that all appeals are identified immediately and sent to the Appeals Admin tray.
The Appeals and Disputes Manager and the Senior Appeals & Disputes Officer are responsible for ensuring that all the work of the section is processed in an appropriate manner and timescales and at the required quality standard. Priorities of work are communicated to affected areas via email.
The Appeals and Disputes Specialists are responsible for dealing with all types of appeals and disputes, preparation of submissions and the presentation of cases at tribunal or before the Hsg and NDR Panel.
Appeals and Disputes Officers deal with Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) applications and first stage appeals, replacement school clothing vouchers, revision requests and preparing submissions for all not duly made, out of jurisdiction and out of time appeals, along with the admin duties associated with the team.
How Appeals and Revisions are processed
When a dispute is received it is sent to the Appeals Admin Tray. The Appeals and Disputes Officers must then index the dispute to the relevant appeal/revision type and distribute it in line with the current work priorities.
Appeals and Disputes Specialists and Appeals and Disputes Senior Officer shall deal with all appeal types. Appeals and Disputes Officers shall deal with revisions and approved types of appeal.
The Appeals and Disputes Specialists and Senior Appeals and Disputes Officer shall use their experience and knowledge to process the appeal. The Appeals and Disputes Officer shall use his/her knowledge and experience to process the revision request. This will include undertaking a complete review of the original decision and making enquiries to ensure that all relevant information required to make the decision has been received.
The appropriate officer will then make a reconsideration of the original decision which must comply with the appropriate Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit Regulations.
There are three options:
- The original decision is confirmed. If this is the case a submission will be prepared. Copies of Submissions are sent to the Appellant, any Representative and HM Courts and Tribunals Service. A copy of the submission is stored in the appropriate filing cabinet prior to the hearing date and for 6-12 months after the hearing depending on the significance of the appeal. An AT37 is sent to HM Courts and Tribunals Service along with the submission.
- On the AT37 a paper hearing should normally be requested in most cases. An oral hearing may be requested for more complex cases.
- The original decision is revised. If this is the case a new letter or notification, confirming the revised decision and containing new appeal rights, is sent to the appellant and the claim to be updated on Northgate.
- The original decision is confirmed but a more detailed explanation of the decision is required because the original decision was not adequately explained. If this is the case a new more detailed letter confirming the decision is sent to the appellant with new appeal rights. This is often an appropriate option for revisions requests which cannot be allowed.
Only options 2 and 3 above apply
The Northgate notepad shall be updated at all times to record the progress of the appeal/revision request.
First tier Tribunals
These are attended by Appeals and Disputes Specialists, the Senior Appeals and Disputes Officer or the Manager. Cases must be prepared in advance of the hearing taking account of additional evidence received since the submission was prepared.
Decision notices are filed with the papers and scanned on to URB.
The Appeals and Disputes Manager will, after consulting the presenting officer, decide if a First Tier Tribunal decision should be challenged and if it should be referred to the Upper Tribunal. This is done in line with the Tribunal Procedure (First-tier Tribunal) (Social Entitlement Chamber) Rules 2008. If the matter then proceeds to the Upper Tribunal it is done in line with the Tribunal Procedure (Upper Tribunal) Rules 2008.
Not Duly Made Appeals
All not duly made appeals are dealt with by the Appeals and Disputes Officers.
If the appeal is received less than a month outside the one calendar month deadline it will generally be accepted as made within time. This is based on our experience of decisions made by HM Courts and Tribunals Service. If it is received more than a month outside the calendar month deadline and no reasons are given a letter will be sent by an appeals officer asking for reasons for the lateness.
After 1 month, or once a reply is received, the Appeals and Disputes Officer shall decide if the appellant has special reasons for submitting their appeal late.
If it is accepted that there are special reasons the appeal is treated as duly made.
If it is decided the appellant has no special reasons to justify the lateness, or there is no response within 1 month to the query letter a short submission will be prepared and sent to HM Courts and Tribunals Service.
Other not duly made appeals
A letter will be sent by an Appeals and Disputes Officer asking for the required evidence so the appeal is duly made.
After 14 days, or once a reply is received, the Appeals Officer shall decide if, based on any new evidence the appeal is now duly made.
If it is decided the appeal is still not duly made a short submission will be prepared and sent to the HM Courts and Tribunals Service.
The Northgate notepad shall be updated at all times to record the progress of all not duly made appeals.
Decisions which cannot be appealed
Schedule 1 of The Housing Benefit and Council Tax benefit (Decision and Appeals) Regulations 2001 contains details of decisions against which no appeal lies. These should be referred to HM Courts and Tribunals Service to confirm the appeal cannot be heard. This is done using a short submission.
The aim of the checking procedure is to:
- Ensure that the work of the Appeals and Disputes Team is checked to the relevant standard.
- Ensure that poor quality work is identified
- Identify strengths, weaknesses and any training needs.
- Offer the opportunity for improvements to be made and maintained.
Mistakes shall be defined as:
Error - a mistake made which results in the incorrect amount of benefit being paid or could result in a complaint against the Authority which would be upheld.
Lapse - a mistake made which will not result in any of the above.
All staff will give priority to rectifying mistakes.
Work to be checked
All submissions are checked by The Appeals and Disputes Manager prior to being sent to the HM Courts and Tribunals Service. Tribunal reports are provided by the presenting officer and included in the team minutes and discussed as appropriate.
All work done by staff undergoing training is checked.
Appropriate Statistics are held on the shared drive and reported to BBCMT and reviewed at Appeals Team meetings.
Various reports are also available via SQL reports on URB to provide extensive Appeals and Disputes information on request.