Welfare Benefit Appeals
Osbornes Law is one of only a few law firms to have a contract with the Legal Aid Agency in the area of Welfare Benefits law. However legal aid is only available for cases before the Upper Tribunal. We can advise whether your case is suitable for such an appeal.
William Ford Partner
“The social housing team at Osbornes is exceptional. The solicitors are highly competent, professional, and committed. It is pleasure to be instructed by them.”
“Osbornes Law are a very highly regarded firm who are at the coalface. They are very on top of their cases.”
Welfare Benefit Appeals
Legal aid is only in scope for cases before the Upper Tribunal. This means that legal aid is not available for general advice on welfare benefits issues, or for appeals of benefit decisions before the First Tier Tribunal.
If you have received a negative decision in your first appeal, however, and wish to explore the possibility of an appeal to the Upper Tribunal we may be able to assist you with this under our Welfare Benefits contract.
Our London solicitors also continue to provide assistance in appeals before the First Tier Tribunal and general advice in respect of welfare benefits matters. If possible we will try to agree a fixed fee for work done on your case. In rare cases, we may be able to apply for exceptional funding from the Legal Aid Agency to cover work that is out of scope for legal aid (such as appeals before the First Tier Tribunal), but we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do this in all cases.
There are also various situations in which there is no right of appeal in respect of a decision in relation to welfare benefits, or regarding a policy or rule implemented by a local authority or the Department of Work and Pensions.
In these cases, the only way in which a decision can be challenged is by way of a claim for Judicial Review.
We have set out more detail on this in the FAQs section below. However, as Osbornes Law has a public law contract, as well as a Welfare Benefits contract, we are in a strong position to be able to assist clients by bringing Judicial Review claims in relation to welfare benefits issues in appropriate cases.
How to appeal a decision
In most cases, if you disagree with a decision by a benefits agency, such as a local authority or the Department of Work and Pensions (“DWP”), you have one month in which to challenge the decision. The first stage is to ask the decision-maker to reconsider their decision (in cases involving the DWP this is called the “mandatory reconsideration” stage, and in Housing Benefit cases it is called a “revision”).
If you remain dissatisfied after this stage you will need to make an appeal. In most cases, the time limit for submitting an appeal is one month from the date of the mandatory reconsideration or revised decision.
You should keep a clear record of all correspondence and interaction with the body making decisions on your benefits. Ideally, this should all be in writing. In relation to Universal Credit, most interaction with the DWP will be through the online journal, which will provide a written record of what you and the DWP have said.
High Court decides on uplift to legacy benefits
We can confirm that on Friday 25th February 2022 we submitted the application for permission to appeal to the High Court over the recent ruling on the uplift to legacy benefits. Further information will be posted on our website when received.
Osbornes Law represents tenants in the full variety of housing law matters,
Osbornes Law are a very highly regarded firm who are at the coalface. They are very on top of their cases.
The Osbornes team is capable and responsive.
William Ford is the best housing and public law solicitor of his generation.
Osbornes are a fantastic team who really stand out in the market in the fields of housing and social care.
Their mix of private client work and legal aid means that legally aided clients are (unusually) able to access a professional and top-flight law firm and get treated with real respect
The social housing team at Osbornes is exceptional. The solicitors are highly competent, professional, and committed.
A large, experienced, and capable team with in-depth knowledge covering the entirety of housing and homelessness law
The group has developed expertise in several specialist areas, such as advising EU nationals on their legal status and bringing challenges in asylum age assessment cases.
The team has demonstrable experience in advising clients on issues involving vulnerable clients who have claims against local authorities and housing associations.
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‘Osbornes are very approachable; in a time where many firms are unwilling to take on cases that do not look promising, they are prepared to look at difficult situations and find a way to assist their clients.
"Osbornes is one of the firms that I consistently recommend. Excellent service, and thorough and knowledgable lawyers."
‘From the very first moment, I was aware and grateful to have been put in touch with Osbornes. The expertise, advice, leaving no stone unturned right from the first minute until the very last, I would most certainly recommend every single time.’
"The associates have a thorough knowledge of the area of law, communicate effectively and are incredibly easy to work with."
"They are a firm that likes a challenge and are prepared to do the groundwork to develop cases, even if it means much preparation without remuneration."
"It is clear the firm put the interests of the client first at all times."
"There’s a real sense of team ethic. It’s clear that internal communication and case recording are strong because if a solicitor handling a case is away the person covering is fully up to speed, has the necessary documents available to them and nothing falls through the cracks."
"If a short deadline comes up on an urgent case, solicitors are active in collaborating to ensure it can be met."
"The practice is ‘undoubtedly one of the best in the business‘ and has a strong reputation for complex disrepair cases and possession claims against local authorities and housing associations."
"Osbornes are an exceptional team. They have a wealth of housing experience and knowledge that is ‘top notch’. Clients are safe in their hands. As colleagues, they have a fantastic working relationship with each other and, feeding off of each other’s expert knowledge, their solicitors work to ensure that no stone is unturned."
"The team at Osbornes is inspired by its leader Will Ford, a truly first-rate, modern lawyer’s lawyer. The team have blossomed under his Will and are now packed with conscientious, dedicated and excellent lawyers who always give their clients 100%."
"Alex McMahon – thorough and committed. Very easy to work with."
"A committed and well-organised team with a good knowledge of the law and who work hard to secure a good outcome for their clients"
"Osbornes has an impressive social housing team and the quality of their work that I have seen is very high. Will Ford is a very well-regarded figure in the housing law world and leads a team of high quality and committed lawyers."
"Osbornes provide an incredibly high-quality service to their clients. The firm treats its legal aid clients with the same respect and commitment as if they were important private clients, which is rare and admirable. Their housing solicitors are also highly skilled and knowledgable."
"This is an outstanding firm with great attention to detail. They work tirelessly to achieve the best possible outcome for their clients. They have excellent client care skills and are extremely organised."
"They are at the forefront of legal developments in the field of social housing and community care. They are committed to using their multidisciplinary expertise to achieve the best possible outcomes for clients."
"This a great team - the quality of their work is amazing and they are very professional"
"An exceptional outfit. They take on difficult cases, fight hard and win."
"Osbornes team is noted for cross-practice expertise in areas such as housing and community care, which it brings to bear in disrepair, possession and homelessness cases involving vulnerable adults, individuals with language difficulties, the elderly and those with no recourse to public funds."
The social housing team is friendly, approachable and genuinely care about its clients.
A broad knowledge places the social housing department one step ahead of others when it comes to community care knowledge.
The social housing department always go the extra mile.
The social housing team has a strong track record in representing tenants in claims against local authorities and housing associations, with particular expertise in complex disrepair and possession cases.
Osbornes is commended for its 'rare level of commitment'.
Welfare Benefits FAQs
When can I bring a claim for Judicial Review in relation to welfare benefit cases?
The following are examples of cases where a claim for Judicial Review is appropriate:
- Public law challenges. This is where a challenge is brought to legislation or a policy that is considered to be unlawful. Recent examples of this include challenges to the “bedroom tax” and the “benefit cap”.
- Decisions where there is no right of appeal to the First Tier Tribunal. These include:
- A failure or refusal to carry out a mandatory reconsideration of a decision;
- A decision to suspend (as opposed to terminate) a payment of benefit;
- Whether or not to waive recovery of an overpayment;
- A refusal to carry out an “any time” revision. In certain circumstances a benefit authority can consider revising a decision even where the normal time limit for an appeal has passed (13 months). If the benefit authority refuses to carry out an anytime revision then this can only be challenged by way of Judicial Review.
- Refusal of by the Upper Tribunal to grant permission to appeal from the First Tier Tribunal
- Interim decisions by a First Tier Tribunal judge. A Judicial Review to the Upper Tribunal can be brought against interim decisions of the First Tier Tribunal Judge regarding the case management of the appeal under the Tribunal’s procedure rules. There is no specific right of appeal to do this, so Judicial Review before the Upper Tribunal is the only option to effectively challenge an interim decision.
Are there any circumstances in which Judicial Review can be used if there is a right of appeal to the First Tier Tribunal?
Judicial Review is a remedy of last resort, which means that in most cases where there is an alternative route to challenge a decision, such as an appeal to the First Tier Tribunal, a claimant will be expected to pursue that route. However, in some situations it may be possible to bring a Judicial Review claim even where there is technically a right of appeal to a Tribunal.
This can happen where the alternative remedy is not effective, such as where the consequences of waiting for the appeal to be heard before the First Tribunal would be so serious that waiting for the hearing would deny the claimant any meaningful benefit of success at that hearing. An example of this could be where Housing Benefit has been refused and a client is facing a possession claim under mandatory rent arrears grounds., but by the time the Housing Benefit appeal is concluded it will be too late because a Court would have made a possession order. In this situation a claim for Judicial Review may be appropriate. As a result of welfare reforms and problems with the administration of benefits there can be situations in which individuals are left without any benefits and are at risk of destitution. In such cases sometimes Judicial Review will be the only effective remedy.
Can I challenge a decision of the First Tier Tribunal because I am unhappy with the result?
An appeal to the Upper Tribunal can only proceed on a point of law, not just because you are unhappy with the decision of the First Tier Tribunal. It will be necessary to demonstrate that there has been some failing by the First Tier Tribunal. Points of law can include a failure to take into account relevant evidence, reliance upon irrelevant considerations, a misunderstanding of legislation, and a failure to apply relevant binding case law.
Are there other organisations that can help me?
Below are the details of other organisations who may be able to provide assistance:
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Osbornes Law has experience in dealing with issues involving all types of welfare benefits, including
- Universal Credit
- Housing Benefit
- Personal Independent Payments
- Disability Living Allowance
- Employment and Support Allowance
- Income Support
- Jobseekers Allowance
- Child Benefit
- Tax Credits
- Pension Credit.