Challenging benefits decisions

If you want to challenge a benefit decision, you need to make sure you follow the right procedure. This page offers advice on who makes benefit decisions and how to challenge them.

The information below is for members living in England, Scotland and Wales. If you live in Northern Ireland, the rules are different, so please contact the Welfare Service directly for further advice. 

Who makes the decisions? 

Most benefit decisions are made by Decision Makers working for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) who make decisions on behalf of the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit, Child Benefit and Guardian’s Allowance decisions are made by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) Officers.

Employers make decisions about Statutory Sick Pay, Statutory Maternity Pay, Statutory Paternity Pay and Statutory Adoption Pay.   

Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction/ Support decisions are made by Local Authorities.

How long do decisions take? 

There are target times applied to decision making but in practice, these are often not met. 

If you claim a benefit and do not receive a decision, contact the decision making authority to find out why the decision has been delayed.   

If you are told your claim hasn’t been received, you should provide a copy of it, or you may have to complete another claim form and provide an explanation of how the first claim was submitted. You should ask for your claim to be backdated to avoid losing out on benefit you are entitled to. 

If you experience unreasonable delays to a benefit decision, you can:

  • make a complaint
  • request an advance payment
  • possibly claim another benefit 
  • contact your local authority for possible support

Providing further information to support your claim

A decision maker might need you to provide further information or evidence to accompany your claim in order to reach a decision about your entitlement.  If you do not provide this your claim may be suspended, terminated or disallowed.

If a decision maker decides that your claim is not valid due to a lack of information, you should receive notification of this and you have a right to dispute the decision.  

Decision notices

You should be notified in writing of a decision made on your claim.   The decision notice should always set out your appeal rights. 

You can request a written statement of reasons for a decision if none are provided in the decision notice.

You must ask for this within one month of the date on the original decision notice.

Challenging a decision

For DWP and HMRC decisions, you must first request a revision of the decision before you can make an appeal to an independent tribunal – this is called a Mandatory Reconsideration

Local Authority benefits are reviewed by the local authority or appealed directly, and your decision letter will tell what your options are.   

Employer benefits are dealt with by HMRC.   

There are three ways of changing a decision made by a decision maker and these are:

  • Revision / review (HMRC use the terminology ‘review’ for a revision)
  • Supersession
  • Appeal

For more detailed information about revisions and supersessions please visit the Citizens Advice website

For more information about appeals, please our page on "Appealing benefits decisions."

Type of benefit

Decision maker

Child Benefit
Child Tax Credit
Guardian’s Allowance
Working Tax Credit
Statutory Adoption Pay
Statutory Maternity Pay
Statutory Paternity Pay
Statutory Sick Pay
Housing Benefit
Council Tax Reduction
Local Authorities
 All other benefits DWP