housing benefit appeals & FIRST TIER tribunals

Preparing For Housing Benefit Appeals & Tribunals

A Good Practice Workshop - Focusing On 'HB Overpayments'


Overpayments remain the most common HB appeal subject matter. This workshop provides an introduction/refresher to the general principles of appeal submission writing, coupled with detailed analysis of the issues arising in overpayment appeals. We look at how to make sure you have your “ducks in a row” – the adjudication history clearly established; and we look at some of the most frequent issues arising in overpayment appeals – undisclosed capital, undisclosed partners, undisclosed earnings, use of third party evidence. The workshop will be most useful for local authority officers involved with appeals.


London - Date TBC for September / October 

Kingsley Holborn Thistle Hotel, Bloomsbury, 

City Centre Venue. (Near British Museum)



 Date TBC for September / October 

City Centre Venue. 

Workshop Fee: £285 + VAT.    4th Place Free on same date & venue.

The continued roll-out of Universal Credit has led to a reduction in new HB claims and, accordingly, a shift in appeal subject matter away from issues arising on new claims (e.g. commerciality, right to reside) and towards issues arising during the course of an established HB award – especially overpayments.

This Workshop provides a general introduction for new appeals officers, or a refresher for existing appeals officers, covering the general principles of appeal submission writing: impartiality, what evidence to include, the traditional lay-out of an appeal submission and when it might useful to vary that lay-out. But each aspect of submission writing is demonstrated by practical examples and exercises focused primarily on overpayments.

We will consider some of the most common reasons for overpayments, such as undisclosed capital, undisclosed earnings and undisclosed partners. Ownership and valuation of capital can be complicated – how, for example, does the Council value the claimant’s stake in a jointly owned property where the other owner is disinclined to sell and perhaps lives in the property? Another capital-related issue concerns estates in probate/administration where the claimant is a beneficiary and, sometimes, also an executor/administrator: at what stage does the claimant have an asset that falls to be taken into account for HB? We will consider what the case law has to say about such cases (e.g. the landmark Wilkinson case and the more recent UT decision involving Bournemouth Council). 

A frequent subject of enquiries to our post-box is undisclosed earnings: When is it appropriate to go back and revise/supersede previous awarding decisions and create an overpayment? And how should the Council deal with the problem of evidence relied on to create an overpayment being subject to access agreements with third parties under which disclosure to the claimant is not allowed? If the appeal turns on this evidence, how can it be made available?

Apart from the merits of the case, overpayment appeals are notoriously subject to technical issues which can lead to the Council losing what ought to have been a strong case on its merits. Has the Council demonstrated that the adjudication history is properly in order, with original awarding decisions properly revised or superseded – what Tribunals sometimes refer to as getting your “ducks in a row”.

The role of partners in overpayment cases is often a source of confusion: in what circumstances is an HB overpayment recoverable from the claimant’s partner as well as or instead of the claimant personally? Failing to properly identify the person or persons from whom an overpayment is recoverable can lead to the Council’s decision being set aside by a Tribunal.

Of course, no workshop looking at overpayments would be complete without a substantial segment devoted to landlords: when is an overpayment recoverable from a landlord? When is a landlord a party to an appeal? What grounds of appeal may the landlord rely on and what documents should be disclosed to the landlord? There is a large body of case law concerned with landlords and HB appeals and we will cover the most up to date decisions during the day.

The day concludes with a brief look at what happens after the appeal has been submitted to the Tribunal, including procedure at the oral hearing and possible options for taking it further if either party is dissatisfied with the outcome.

Presented by Peter Barker, a hugely experienced trainer, appeals presenter and submission writer. He started as a local authority appeals officer in the 1980s, and for many years he has represented local authorities in England, Wales and Scotland at both First-tier and Upper Tribunal level. Tribunal Judges frequently comment on the high quality of Peter’s submissions. He combines a wealth of first-hand experience with expert knowledge of adjudication legislation and has a real enthusiasm for the topic.

In-House Workshop Required?

We are always pleased to arrange most of our Workshops, such as this one, for staff from an individual organisation to be held at their own training venue. We also offer this topic to In-House clients as a more comprehensive 2-day Workshop.  Please email us with your requirements for details.