Cornwall Council make decisions about Housing Benefit (help with rent). The rules we use are set by the government.
If you are on Universal Credit you need to contact the Department for Work and Pensions, if you are unhappy about that decision. Your Universal Credit decision letter tells you how to do this, or you can look at the Universal Credit information on the gov.uk website.
Our decisions include things like:
- whether you can get any benefit and/or support
- how much you can get
- how we pay it
- what happens if we pay too much
We tell you our decision in a letter.
If you don’t understand our decision or you think it is wrong you can ask us to explain our decision or look at it again.
We can change our decision where a mistake has been made or more information is provided.
The council must reconsider your claim before an appeal tribunal will look at your case.
You may not understand our decision. Decision letters can sometimes be confusing and can cover various awards such as Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support.
You can ask us to explain the decision more fully. We call this a statement of reasons request:
- Contact us online
- Contact us by phone on 0300 1234 121
- Write to us at The Benefit Assessment team, PO BOX 676, Threemilestone, Truro, TR1 9EQ to ask us to explain our decision. We will reply to this request in writing and we aim to reply within 14 days. You must sign the request yourself.
If we’ve made a mistake or you disagree with our decision then ask us to look again. We call this a reconsideration request.
You must ask us in writing if you want us to change our decision. We must get your letter or online request within one month of the date of our decision letter.
What do I need to include in my request?
You can contact us online.
Alternatively, you can write to the Benefit Assessment team, PO Box 676, Threemilestone, Truro, TR1 9EQ. All decisions have a form which you can complete and return if you would prefer.
Your letter or form should:
- Make it clear which decision you mean. Include the date of our decision letter and the claim reference.
- Say clearly why you think the decision is wrong.
- Give any further information or evidence you think we haven't got.
If you’ve asked us to reconsider our decision and we have made a change and you are still unhappy you can ask us to look at the new decision again.
If you’ve asked us to reconsider our decision and we have not changed this, you can then formerly appeal against the decision.
You must appeal against our decision within one month of the date of the new decision.
Housing Benefit appeals are sent by Cornwall Council to an independent appeal tribunal.
If a month has passed since our decision you can make a late request for us to look at it again.
We cannot always accept a late request. You must tell us why you didn't ask within a month.
The maximum time limit for making an appeal is usually 13 months from the date of the decision. If your appeal is against a decision older than this the Valuation Tribunal must decide whether it can proceed.
How do I make a late request?
If you disagree with our decision you must write to us confirming the date of the decision you disagree with and fully explain why you don’t agree with it. This can be done by contacting us online.
Appeal Tribunals are where Housing Benefit appeals are heard.
We will send your appeal to an independent tribunal. The tribunal will take over the process from this point and will contact you to arrange the hearing. The hearing will normally take place in either Truro or Plymouth, dependent on where you live.
Before attending a tribunal hearing you will be sent a pack of documents. These confirm all the information about your appeal.
Who will be at your tribunal hearing
- Tribunals are made up of up to two members, one will be a qualified person and one will be their clerk. Neither of whom is from the council.
- Tribunal members will be experts on the issues involved in your appeal.
- All tribunals have a legally qualified member to help apply the law to your appeal.
- Tribunals may also include someone with financial qualifications.
- Usually a representative from the Council will also attend
The Tribunal looks at
- The evidence, the law and the circumstances at the time we made the decision you are appealing against.
- They cannot look at changes of circumstances that happened after we made the decision.
In the meantime, if something changes, you should report a change of circumstances to us straight away. Do not wait for the appeal hearing.
Attending the hearing
The tribunal may ask you questions, and:
- You can ask questions
- You can take someone with you to represent you
- You can call witnesses to give evidence to the tribunal
- Someone from the Council may also be at the hearing. They may ask you questions and call witnesses.
If you plan to attend the hearing but find you cannot go, you must let the Tribunal know straight away. You must have a good reason why you cannot go, such as illness. You may be able to arrange another date.
If you do not let the Tribunal know you cannot go to the hearing, the tribunal may hear your appeal without you.
You can choose not to attend the hearing. The tribunal service will give you this option when they write to you about your case. The appeal will be heard without you and the Tribunal will send their decision to both you and the Council.
In some cases the tribunal may need you to attend the hearing, if this is the case they will tell you.
If you want to know more information about the Tribunal process or you do not agree with the Tribunal's decision, visit the Tribunal Service website.