John Battle on Housing Hardship

John Battle is also associated with the Housing Hardship Issues of the 1990’s
Hardship relief
Under the housing benefit regulations the council has the discretion to pay or increase benefit in cases of special hardship. If you think you are a special case, ask for more help.
Section 53 of the General Rate Act 1967 allows councils to reduce or refund a rates payment 'on account of the poverty of any person liable to pay it'. If you get into arrears because you have failed to claim a rate rebate, you could press your council to use this power. It can only do this if you are a rated occupier. If you pay rates together with rent, you will probably not be the rated occupier.
Is your housing benefit the wrong amount?
If you disagree with the amount, you can ask for the decision to be reviewed; but you must do this within six weeks of receiving the decision. The council must then review its decision and either alter or confirm it, and notify you in writing, giving reasons for the decision.
Appealing to a review board
If you still disagree with a decision, you can ask for a further review; but you must ask for it within 28 days of the decision on the first review. Your case will then go to a review board, and there will be a hearing so that you can present your case, call witnesses and be represented. You can claim reasonable travelling expenses for yourself and one other person representing or accompanying you.
The board consists of at least three local councilors. The review board's decision must normally be sent to you within seven days, with the reasons for the decision. There is no further right of appeal from the decision of the review board except the possibility of applying to the courts for a judicial review.
If you have to go to a review board, get advice from a CAB, welfare rights advice centre or independent housing advice centre. They may find someone who can represent you at the hearing.