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Category : Benefits and tax > Housing benefit and council tax benefit

Decision : Upheld

Decision date : 11 Aug 2017

Summary

Mrs X complains the Council delayed her appeal to claim Housing Benefit and Council Tax reduction.

The complaint

Mrs X applied to the Council for both Housing Benefit and Council Tax reduction. The council refused both applications.  It told her of her right to appeal to both the Tribunal for Housing Benefit and the Valuation Tribunal for Council Tax. The council delayed sending her appeal about her Housing Benefit to the Valuation Tribunal.

Finding

The Ombudsman upheld the complaint and found fault causing injustice.

Recommendations

While the outcome of Mrs X’s appeal and the other outstanding cases cannot be known the fault identified has caused a delay in Mrs X’s right of appeal and that of 519 others. We recommend the Council should:

  • apologise to Mrs X and pass her appeal to the Tribunal; and
  • pay Mrs X £100 for her time and trouble in pursuing her appeal for such a length of time.

The Council has accepted these recommendations.

Within three months we recommend the Council should:

  • review all outstanding appeals and pass the backlog to the Tribunal;
  • review its procedures to ensure it complies with the Tribunal rules; and
  • report back to us evidencing how it has changed its procedures and confirming how many
  • of the outstanding appeals it has progressed.

The Council has explained this would be difficult due to the number of cases outstanding. The Council also wants to ensure it prioritises those appeals where the decision is impacting on a person’s current entitlement to Housing Benefit. The Council has agreed to:

  • pass the remaining backlog of appeals to the Tribunal by April 2018, prioritising those appeals where the decision impacts on the person’s current entitlement to Housing Benefit; and
  • review its procedures to ensure from April 2018 it processes all appeals within two months (in line with Council Tax appeal guidance).

The Council will report its progress to us every quarter until April 2018. It will also evidence how it has changed its procedures. We are satisfied this is a suitable response.

 

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