Ask CPAG online - What does the law say?

There is no right of appeal against a:

  • DWP decision unless the DWP has ‘considered on an application whether to revise the decision’ (note that the decision notice must inform you of this requirement for it to apply);1

  • tax credits decision unless ‘a review has been carried out’ by HMRC following a ‘written application’ and ‘notice of the conclusion on the review has been given’2 (note that HMRC has delegated some of its decision making powers, including carrying out reviews, to a private company called Concentrix);

  • child benefit or guardian’s allowance decision without HMRC ‘first deciding on an application made for revision of that decision…., not to revise the decision’.3

Note that the rules do not refer to ‘mandatory reconsideration’, which is an operational, rather than legal term, and that the wording is different for different benefits. Whether and when the DWP has ‘considered whether to revise a decision’ is also not always entirely clear (e.g. where the DWP carries out an ‘initial revision’ prior to a MR, or refused to admit a late application for MR).

You have a legal right to a written notice of an appealable decision. The DWP and HMRC call this a ‘mandatory reconsideration notice’.4

There are no rules governing how a MR must be carried out (this is left to operational guidance, which at the time of writing is not publically available) and significantly, no statutory time limits within which a MR must be completed (although a tax credits MR must be carried out ‘as soon as is reasonably practicable’). The Government has stated that straightforward cases should “take around 14 days” although others could take longer if further evidence is required . There are no up-to-date statistics but advice agencies continue to report an ongoing problem with delays.