The UK Benefits System Is Changing
The Government is making changes to the current Welfare System which could affect you. The changes will take affect from 1st April 2013.
This means that if you receive benefits the amount you get and how you get it may change.
Where do I find information?
The information leaflet Benefit Changes - Welfare Reform Act 2012 will help you find out who will be affected and where you can go for advice. The leaflet is available to the right of this page.
The leaflet contains details about:
- Council Tax Support Scheme
- Under Occupation in Social Housing
- Benefit Cap
- Social Fund Scheme
- Disability Living Allowance
- Local Housing Allowance Rates
If after reading the leaflet you need further help or advice, please contact us on the details to the bottom of the page.
We will advise you of your rights when we make a decision about your claim. Should you be unhappy with that decision you will have one calendar month to contact us and ask us to either:
- Explain our decision (otherwise known as a statement of reasons); or
- Request a review of the decision (otherwise known as reconsideration); or
- Ask for an appeal to an independent tribunal
Asking for a statement of reasons
If you need more information about the decision we have made you will need to write to us with one calendar month of the decision being notified to you.
Should you be unhappy with the decision we have made you can either choose to have the decision reconsidered or you can have the decision referred straight to an independent tribunal.
The one calendar month time limit will be suspended from the day we receive your request for statement of reasons until the day that we send our response.
Asking for a reconsideration
If you believe our decision is incorrect you should write to us and ask for the decision to be reconsidered. When we receive your request a different member of staff will check to see if the original decision was correct. If the decision is wrong we will correct it and send you a new set of decision letters, with a new set of appeal rights.
If we are unable to change our decision we will send you a letter explaining why we cannot change the decision and give you a further month in which to appeal to the Tribunal Service.
Appealing a decision
If you believe a decision we have made is incorrect you can appeal the decision to an independent Tribunal Service. Your appeal must reach us within one calendar month of the date of the decision that you are appealing, or within one calendar month of our letter advising you of the outcome of a reconsidered decision.
Should you wish to appeal a decision you will need to complete the appeals pro-forma in the Claim Form and Pro-forma section. On this pro-forma you will be asked to explain why you feel our decision is wrong.
We will review our decision before we decide whether to send your appeal to the Tribunal Service. If we are unable to change our decision we will submit your appeal.
The Appeals Tribunal will then review the decision we made against the evidence provided and against the law that governs the decision(s) we made.
Should your appeal be received late the Tribunal Service may not be able to accept it unless there are mitigating special circumstances for its delay. If you do appeal late you will need to explain why your appeal has been delayed. A tribunal member will then decide whether to hear your appeal.
Please note no appeals will be heard if the delay exceeds 13 months.
The appeals process
If we have been unable to change the decision we have made we will forward your appeal to the Tribunal Service. When we send your appeal to the Tribunal Service we will produce a file of information relevant to the decision in question, this will include the evidence you have provided in support of your claim and any documentation which relates to our decision. We will send a copy to the Tribunal Service, a copy to you, and a copy to your representative, should you have one.
When you receive this paperwork please read it carefully and ask us to explain anything that you do not understand.
Once the Tribunal Service receive our submission they will send you a letter which you must respond to within 14 days otherwise your appeal will stop. This letter will give you the option to have an oral or paper hearing.
A paper hearing is heard without you needing to be present. If the Tribunal Service feels that you ought to attend the hearing it can choose to reject your request for a paper hearing.
Once the Tribunal Service has made a decision they will write to you with the outcome. If the decision is in your favour the Council will revise its decision and notify you of the outcome. If the decision is not in your favour the Tribunal Service will advise you of your rights.
An oral hearing is one that you are able to attend, with a representative, should you wish to have one. At this hearing you will be able to ask and answer questions raised. The Council will also be represented at this tribunal and we may ask you questions.
Should you request an oral hearing but you find you are unable to attend, you must inform the Tribunal of the reasons why you can’t attend. The Tribunal may be able to postpone the hearing until another date. If you fail to attend and you don’t contact the Tribunal in advance, the hearing will be heard in your absence.