Appeal or reconsideration

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    I would appreciate your views on the following scenario.

    Letter received from the claimant in November 2009 regarding the decision that they do not qualify for HB. (Non-commercial/taking advantage etc.). The letter starts by saying that they wish to appeal against the decision but ends with ‘we request that you look again at our claim to Housing Benefit as our circumstances are not as you suggest’.

    Therefore, we treated it as a reconsideration and advised them on 1st December 2009 that the decision had been upheld. They were advised of the need to appeal within a calendar month to have their case heard by TTS.

    The next correspondence was received on 15th January 2010 (out of time) from the CAB. They were stating that the original request was for an appeal and, therefore, the claimants have already lodged an ‘in time’ appeal.

    It was decided to allow the appeal following receipt of this letter.

    The CAB are requesting compensation for the delay in submitting the appeal to TTS – it was submitted in June 2010. They state that the claimants have suffered severe financial hardship during the period awaiting the appeal – even though they have not provided sufficient documentary evidence to show that any rent payments have been made.

    Interestingly, even though CAB have received a copy of my submission they have not mentioned anything about the claimant having a commercial tenancy or why our decision is wrong, they are just asking for compensation due to the delay – they consider that the appeal was made in November 2009 and do not accept that we were right to treat it as a reconsideration. Surely, the fact that there was such a delay from the notification of the reconsideration decision to the receipt of the letter from the CAB proves that the claimant did not make a clear appeal. Had they have been adament that this was their original intention surely, they would have appealled immediately.

    What are you thoughts?

    This is a very complex claim. Landlords are the parents and rent is supposed to have been charged for years, however, the only evidence is a rent book. I also have contradictory information from a few years ago when the parents claimed. As they were the legal owners of the 2nd property they didn’t qualify but tried to argue that their son was paying the mortgage on it and, once paid, the property would be transferred to him. Even though I have this in writing they are still disputing it. The mortgage was to the council and was for £150 per month – the rent charged is £485 per month. The submission contained quite a lot of information and evidence to show that the tenancy is not commercial (in my opinion). Is this why the CAB have not made any comment on the commerciality side of the appeal, only the delay. In fact, one letter received from them states ‘the effect of the delay on our clients is substantial, financially, they appear to qualify for HB but have been kept without it for 4 1/2 months due to the delay’. Is this an admission that CAB do not consider that ‘commercially’ their clients qualify for HB?!?

    I can understand from their point of view that it seems unfair that neither can receive HB (the parents are in council accommodation). However, their actions in the past have got them into this situation and have prevented them from receiving HB. However, they have gained in other area’s i.e. the obtaining of council accommodation, the purchasing of previous council accommodation.

    Any thoughts greatly received.


    The delay from 15th January when you received the CAB letter until June when the appeal was submitted does appear to me to be unacceptably long. Was there a reason for this length of delay?

    Compensation could be considered due to the delay, but how much would be appropriate is a difficult matter.

    Even more of an issue for the claimant will be the fact that it will probably take TTS 6-9 months to hear the appeal.


    Firstly I would say that the in-time/out of time appeals are not all that relevant anymore following the new tribunal rules as in the interests of justice anything will be accepted as within time unless you formally object or it is over 13 months from the date of the decision. The LA has delayed 6 months (if the Nov 09 appeal is taken to be valid) in sending to TAS. The only rules are that an appeal should be sent as soon as reasonably practicable by the LA and there is no set time limit imposed (although TAS did consider 2 – 3 months), I think the claimant could request that the LA is barred from any further part in proceedings but TAS can’t award compensation. If they were experiencing serious hardship the claimant could have made representations to TAS themselves and had the judge direct you to make a submission. If the appeal is unsuccesful what would you be compensating them for? The claimant could make a complaint to the ombusman or apply for judicial review but not sure that a six month delay is wholly unreasonable or that any compensation would be payable.


    I have sympathy with the CAB position (whatever the merits of the case). In their recent report on decisionmaking and appeals, the Parliamentary Committee noted that it is clearly unfair for the DWP (and thus LA’s) to demand that claimants appeal within a month and then for the organisation to do nothing with that appeal for many months.

    There are suggestions that timelimits are now being considered as a result of that report.


    The Ombudsman’s position is that it would normally be maladministration if not sent within 1 month.


    Link to Ombudsman’s special report on the subject.

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