HB Decision-making – the relevant legislation

1. In this section, we identify the legal basis on which decisions about HB are made and changed.

The need for proper HB decision-making processes 

2. Case law ([2011] UKUT 300 (AAC)) emphasises the need for the Council to have proper decision-making processes.1[2011] UKUT 300 (AAC) para 5 

  1. The benefits system is a “decision based” system, as explained by Mr Commissioner Powell in CA/1020/2007 para 12; 2[2011] UKUT 300 (AAC) para 5
  2. The system operates on formal decisions being provided;3[2011] UKUT 300 (AAC) para 5
  3. Any award of a benefit must be made through a formal and identifiable decision; 4[2011] UKUT 300 (AAC) para 5
  4. Alterations to the decision, whether they pertain to the amount, period, or suspension of payment, also require a formal decision.5[2011] UKUT 300 (AAC) para 5
  5. A decision to award a benefit can be changed by either a revision or supersession decision.6[2011] UKUT 300 (AAC) para 6
  6. A revision decision typically replaces the original from its inception. 7[2011] UKUT 300 (AAC) para 6
  7. A supersession decision replaces the original decision usually from a later date, often due to changed circumstances.8[2011] UKUT 300 (AAC) para 6
  8. Such decisions, revision or supersession, can impact the entitlement to benefits and carry appeal rights to the First-tier Tribunal.9[2011] UKUT 300 (AAC) para 6

HB decision-making legislation

3. The legal basis on which the Council makes changes to HB/CTB decisions is to be found in:

  1. The Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Act 2000 (‘CSPSSA’); and
  2. The Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit (Decisions and Appeals) Regulations 2001 No 1002 (referred to as ‘DAR’ for brevity)

4. Council HB administrators should be well-versed with these legislative instruments, in their amended forms, as well as the legislation relating to HB entitlement.

The Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Act 2000

5. The CSPSSA provides the Council with the powers to change HB decisions. It aligns the decision-making process for HB with procedures established for other social security benefits under the Social Security Act 1998.

6. Section 68 of the CSPSSA activates Schedule 7.

7. Schedule 7 amongst other things, contains provisions under which the Council may change initial decisions on HB claims; ie. 

  1. revision; 
  2. supersession; and
  3. appeal. 

8. The provisions of the Schedule are in the main self-contained.

The Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit (Decisions and Appeals) Regulations 2001 No 1002

9. The DAR 2001 are made under Schedule 7, para 10 of the CSPSSA.

10.  These regulations set out in detail the circumstances in which the Council’s HB decisions may be:

  1. revised, or
  2. superseded.

11. They also make provisions with regard to the procedures for the suspension and termination of benefit.

12. The regulations closely follow the framework of the Social Security and Child Support (Decisions and Appeals) Regulations 1999 (the 1999 Regulations). These Regulations set out the analogous decision-making procedures for other social security benefits. 

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