DHP appeal rights

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    We have not had anyone appealing against our decision to turn down a DHP but in recent weeks we have had a number!!!!!! Would anyone be willing to let me have details of what appeal rights they put at the end of their letters. your help would be appreciated.

    Stephen Murray

    We use something along the lines of the following:

    “As Discretionary Housing Payments are not actual payments of benefit and are therefore not subject to the Benefits Appeal System. If however you are dissatisfied with my decision you have the right to request an internal review. Any request should be made in writing to the Depute Chief Executive (Finance) at the above address within 28 days of the date of this letter, clearly stating the grounds on which you wish to appeal.”


    Our letter says:

    If you disagree with the decision not to award you extra help, you may request that it be reviewed. This review must be requested in writing and received by the Discretionary Housing Payments Officer no later than one calendar month from the day after this letter is dated.

    The review will be conducted by a panel of Senior Officers from the department who will go through your application again. If you feel that there is some information missing from your original application, please include it in your written request for a review.


    We use a standard letter which says:

    “There are no appeal rights with regard to this decision. You may
    however request that we look at the decision again should you feel that we have omitted to take important facts into account.”

    If we don’t change the decision, we tell claimants that they should seek legal advice as their only recourse is judicial review.

    We don’t put a time limit on any request to reconsider because the legislation doesn’t give the opportunity to do so, so it can’t be enforced.

    Because DHPs are all about discretion, we tend to use our judgement to decide whether or not the reply is in a reasonable time. I would avoid referring to the reconsideration as an ‘appeal’ to prevent confusion over what is available (sorry if that sounds picky).


    Our letters offer the following:

    If you disagree with this decision, you may appeal. Any such appeal must be made in writing, be signed by you and be received by the Benefits Service by no later than XX/XX/XX, which is one month from the date of this letter.

    The appeal is then considered by an Adjudication Officer. If that appeal is rejected then the rejection letter contains something along the lines of this:

    If you disagree with this decision, you may appeal. Any such appeal must be made in writing, be signed by you and be received by the Benefits Service by no later than 03/01/2005, which is one month from the date of this letter. Please note that any further appeal will be considered by a panel of Councillors. You will be notified in advance of any hearing to enable you to make attned and/or make further representations should you so wish.

    The appeal is then prepared as if we were going to TAS and heard by a panel of 3 Councillors, similar to the old Housing Benefit Review Board.


    Thanks for the responses they are very useful


    I’m raising this topic again as I’ve been given the task of looking at how we deal with DHP’s. One area I’m particularly interested in is how other authorities deal with appeals against DHP’s.

    Do you have a separate team that looks at the appeals?
    What if you still refuse the customers request – is that it or do you then give them further rights?
    Do you have a separate panel that looks at appeals and, if so, how is that panel made up?


    We have a specific appeals team who deal with all benefit appeals, plus DHP appeals.

    For ease of process etc we use roughly the same procedure as for benefit appeals, except that obviously things like ‘not duly made’ and ‘out of time’ don’t apply as there are no DHP appeal regs.

    The appeals officer reconsiders the decision, and if they can revise it, they do; if not, they write a submission.

    The appellant is then invited to an appeal hearing (they can opt for paper if they want). The panel is made up of 2/3 senior officers from our Service, one of whom acts as chair. They read the submission, ask further questions as necessary and make a decision.

    The appellant is informed afterwards in writing and, in cases where the appeal is not upheld, they are told there is no further right of appeal against that decision.

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