Appeals toolkit: introduction

Welcome to CPAG in Scotland’s Appeals toolkit.

This appeals toolkit gathers together useful resources to help you through the appeals process for benefits, tax credits and universal credit. Here you can find links to official forms, sample letters, the legislation, caselaw and relevant articles and factsheets.

Appeals are a necessary step in protecting families from poverty. Whether you are an unrepresented claimant, a new representative or a general adviser, we aim to provide information and support that will assist you to understand the process from decision to tribunal. The resources are gathered into two sections:

  • Self-help level
    This page is for unrepresented claimants or people who are attending a tribunal for support rather than as a representative. It includes the forms you should use, a checklist of the basic procedure and information on what to expect.

  • Basic representation level:
  1. Decisions and mandatory reconsideration
  2. Making the appeal and getting evidence
  3. The tribunal

These pages are for advisers new to representation. They include links to legislation and caselaw, regular updates of official guidance and templates for standard letters.

Click on the links to find out more, and check the right-hand panel for related information.The rest of the information on this page is an overview that is relevant to both levels.

What is an appeal?

An appeal is a legal challenge to a decision. The first decision on a claim for benefit is made by the government agency that administers the benefit. In an appeal, the decision is made by an independent panel, called the First-tier Tribunal, which is part of the courts system. The First-tier Tribunal decides whether you are entitled according to the law and principles of justice.

Who makes decisions?

Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) – universal credit, income support, jobseeker’s allowance, employment and support allowance, personal independence payment and most other benefits.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) – tax credits, child benefit, guardian’s allowance

Local authority – housing benefit. Local authorities also deal with the Scottish Welfare Fund and council tax reduction, but there is no right of appeal to the First-tier Tribunal about these.

Who deals with tribunals?

HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS)  deals with social security appeals. This is an agency of the Ministry of Justice, the UK government department that deals with the courts and justice system. There are different tribunals for other matters such as employment, immigration and tax. Most courts and some tribunals in Scotland are devolved to the Scottish Courts system, but for social security, the First-tier Tribunal comes under the UK-wide system.

Next stage

Go to the self-help level if you are an individual looking for help with the appeals process, or, if you are an adviser, you may wish to skip this stage and go to the basic representation level.