Benefit appeals

Disagree with a housing benefit decision?

You can:

  • ask for a written explanation
  • ask for the decision to be looked at again or
  • appeal.

To ask for the decision to be looked at again or to make an appeal, you must do so in writing within one month.

Once you have done this, we may decide to change the decision and we will let you know the outcome.

If not, your appeal will be passed to the appeals service, where an independent tribunal will make a decision. If you are still not happy with the decision, you may be able to appeal on a point of law to the social security commissioners.

Frequently asked questions

If I disagree with your decision, what can I do?

You can either ask for a written explanation of a decision, ask for the decision to be looked at again, or appeal against a decision. If you wish to ask for the decision to be looked at again or to make an appeal, you must do so in writing within one month of receiving the decision you disagree with.

Once you have done this, we may decide to change the decision, and if so we will notify you. If not, your appeal will be passed to the appeals service, where an independent tribunal will make a decision on your case. If you are still not happy with the decision, then you may be able to appeal on a point of law to the social security commissioners.

However, you cannot appeal against a decision not to give you a discretionary housing payment. You can ask us to look at our decision but if we don't change the decision, you cannot take the matter any further other than by way of judicial review.

When can a discretionary housing payment be made?

If you are still in financial difficulty due to a shortfall between your housing benefit entitlement and the rent you are charged, you can apply for a discretionary housing payment. You can also apply for a discretionary housing payment if you receive Universal Credit (UC) providing that you have a rental liability and are eligible for support towards housing costs.

Financial difficulty may include help with paying off arrears in some circumstances, although not if you were receiving enough housing benefit to pay all of your rent at the time the arrears built up. We will look closely at your personal circumstances and your finances, and may make an additional award of benefit if you are suffering hardship.

This benefit is paid from a fixed annual fund and is not awarded to everyone who claims it. A discretionary housing payment cannot be paid if the reason for a shortfall is that your housing benefit has been reduced to recover an overpayment. More details on h&f's discretionary housing payment policy.

Who can get a discretionary housing payment?

Other than any situations mentioned in the previous question, there are no rules about who can get discretionary housing payments.

We will usually take into account any special circumstances that contribute to your financial difficulties, for example, if:

  • you have to pay child maintenance
  • you have to pay legal costs
  • you have extra heating costs because you spend a lot of time at home because you are sick or have a disability
  • you have extra travel costs because you travel to a doctor or hospital or you care for a relative or friend.

What information should I send with the claim?

You will be asked to give evidence of your expenditure (ie the money you have going out). This could be a copy of a bill or your bank statements. You should also provide any information about your circumstances that make things difficult for you financially.

Who can I ask for more help with this?

If you would like to know more please contact us.

You may also be able to get help from the advice agencies see:-

Advice if you are struggling to pay bills

H&F's discretionary housing payments policy (pdf)