Ask CPAG Online - How do you challenge a decision about a short-term benefit advance?
This section looks at what you can do if you are unhappy with the decision on your STBA, and want to challenge it.
Most decisions regarding STBAs involve the DWP exercising their discretion (i.e. their judgement) and under the law do not carry the right of appeal to an independent appeal tribunal (Schedule 2, paragraph 20A of the Social Security and Child Support (Decisions and Appeals) Regulations 1999). However that does not apply to decisions about deductions from your benefit to recover the STBA. In any case, you can ask the DWP to reconsider their decision.
Have you been refused an STBA or not awarded enough?
You do not have the right of appeal against a decision refusing to award you an STBA, or about the amount of STBA you have been awarded.
You can ask the DWP to reconsider the decision. Official guidance requires that you do this ‘during’ the conversation with the decision maker about the outcome of your application for an STBA. The guidance says that if you ask for a reconsideration after the conversation, you should be advised to make another application for an STBA, as your circumstances may have changed.
Because of this, you should ask for a reconsideration during the conversation with the decision maker if you possibly can. Try to say why you disagree with it, for example pointing out the urgency of your need for an STBA, and the threat to the health or safety of you or your family.
You can still try asking for a reconsideration after that conversation, if for example you were confused or upset during the conversation and did not think to ask for a reconsideration. In any case you should act quickly, as the longer you leave the request for a reconsideration the less likely the DWP are to accept your request.
Ultimately, the only legal challenge you can make against a decision refusing you an STBA or about the amount you have been awarded is via judicial review in the courts. For a judicial review you should seek legal advice. Ask whether there is a charge for the advice, and about whether or not you might be subject to legal costs.
Are you unhappy with the decision regarding the repayment of your STBA?
You do have the right of appeal to a tribunal against a decision regarding the repayment of the STBA by deduction from subsequent payments of your benefit, including the rate of the reductions (Schedule 2, paragraph 20A of the Social Security and Child Support (Decisions and Appeals) Regulations 1999 does allow appeals against decisions made under regulation 10 of the Social Security (Payments on Account of Benefit) Regulations 2013).
However, note that:
- if the DWP think that you will not keep to the repayment terms that they are offering, they will not award you an STBA at all;
- appeals can take several months to be heard, and that the appeal tribunal does not have to make the decision that you want it to make.
You should still ask the DWP to reconsider that decision first. Your request can be made on the phone or in writing. If you remain unhappy with the DWPs reconsideration, you can appeal. For more information on appeals, see Chapter 57 of CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook.