Advice & Help
Bedroom Tax Appeals Guide
If you wish to challenge a ‘bedroom tax’ decision you only have one month to do so. The month is calculated from the date the council wrote to you saying your housing benefit was going to be reduced because they believe you are ‘underoccupying’ and have a ‘spare room(s)’. You can only appeal late if you have a good reason, for example, you had been ill.
This toolkit guide explains how you can challenge the cut in your housing benefit. If you want to challenge your council’s decision you need to send the DISPUTE FORM below to your local revenue and benefits council office.
A local advice agency may be able to represent you for free too, if not you may be able to get free help from a local solicitor under the ‘Advice and Assistance Scheme’.
1. ‘Reference number’ – this is the housing benefit reference that your council has given you on their letter to you, which should be at the top of their letter.
2. ‘National Insurance Number. This helps the council match your dispute to your claim.
3. ‘Name’ – your full name.
4. ‘Address’ – the full postal address of your home where you have been claiming housing benefit.
5. ‘Telephone No’ – your contact number if you have one.
6. ‘Date of decision’ – this is the date of the letter from the council telling you about your housing benefit deductions. If this date is older than one month from when you are filling in the form below you would need to explain why it is late – for example, you were unwell, death in the family, a family crisis, or some other good reason.
7. ‘I think the decision is wrong because’ – we have included some standard technical reasons which should help you but it is really important for you to select from the menu below which specific appeal argument applies to you and write this into Box 7 on the form in your own words. All of these arguments are untested at present, but there are already 10 judicial review cases in England on some of these arguments. If these are successful and you have not appealed you could be affected by what is known as the ‘anti-test case’ rules which means you cannot benefit from the success of any court case for past loss unless you appealed yourself.
POSSIBLE APPEAL GROUNDS
If you have a disabled person living in the household then you might be able to say:
- “A disabled adult lives in my house and requires their own bedroom because of the needs of their disability. To ignore the needs of a disabled member of my household and treating them as not being entitled to their own room to sleep in is discriminatory and unlawful in relation to the Human Rights Act 1998” AND
- “The disabled member of my household requires a bedroom for therapeutic/care purposes/to store medical equipment in relation to their disability” AND
- “My home has been specially adapted to meet the needs of a disabled person”.
If someone in the household has mental or physical health problems you might be able to say:
- “A member of my household has mental or physical health problems which would make moving from their home harmful, and requiring such a move is discriminatory and unlawful in relation to the Human Rights Act 1998”
If you have children who had previously been in a household that experienced domestic violence you might be able to say:
- “My children need a safe space because they previously lived in a household which experienced domestic violence and requiring such a move is unlawful in relation to the Human Rights Act 1998”.
If you have a small galley-style kitchen you might be able to say:
- “I have a small galley-style kitchen and you have wrongly classified my dining-room as a spare bedroom”.
If you have a bedroom which is a small box-type room you may be able to say:
- “I have a small box-type room which is not a bedroom, and you have wrongly classified this as a spare bedroom”.
If you are separated from a former partner and share child care on a part-time basis you might be able to say:
- “I am separated from my former partner and require the room you have wrongly classified as a spare room to meet my child care and parental duties. To ignore my duties as a parent, and ignore the needs of my children to stay with me, is discriminatory and unlawful in relation to the Human Rights Act 1998”
If none of the above apply, then you may wish to argue the following:
- “You have wrongly classified as a spare bedroom the room I use as a *family play room/*storage room/*games room”.
8. ‘Signature’ – you must sign and date the form.
9. ‘Return to council office’ – you need to send this to the council housing benefit office. It is best to have proof of sending – so you can deliver by hand and ask for a receipt or send recorded delivery. You can use ordinary post if you have no other option – but in all cases always keep a copy of the form you send in. You can go to your local library or a shop that photocopies or print out two forms and fill in both, keeping one for use later.
The address of the housing benefit office in Coventry is:
Housing Benefits and Advice Centre
New Union Street
You can phone them on 024 7683 1800 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
What happens next?
Your council should send you a ‘statement of reasons’ – you have asked for this in box 7 of the form, keep these safe. Box 7 also asks for a review and an appeal at the same time.
A review is necessary to ask the council to reconsider its decision and a different officer will look at your case and may ask for more information. Again, if you need help with this contact a local advice agency or solicitor.
Box 7 also asks for an appeal, this is because if the council refuse your review and insist that you are liable to bedroom tax deductions they will have to send your case to an Independent Tribunal.
Amelia Roberts: 07712805874
Rob McArdle: 07766020436
Dan Crowter: 07728711842
Dave Griffiths: 07929395884
Appeal Letter Template
(1) Reference Number:
(2) National Insurance Number:
(5) Telephone Number:
The name of the benefit I am disputing is housing benefit (under-occupancy deductions – “bedroom tax”).
(6) The date of the decision I wish to dispute is: (date of decision or brief details that will allow the decision to be identified)
I would like to request three things – (1) a statement of reasons (2) for this decision to be looked at again under review and (3) I wish to appeal against this decision.
(7) I think your decision is wrong because you have failed to base your decision upon the actual facts and circumstances of my case, or an inspection of my home. Please provide me with a copy of your policy which sets out how you define ‘bedroom’ for the purposes of the HB Regulations 2006 as amended by SI No.3040, and any other documentation which explains how you have reached your decision in my particular case. I believe you have applied a blanket policy, and unlawful approach, in determining that I have a spare room.
I also believe your decision is wrong because: [insert below]