Benefits and tax credits
What do you need help with?
We can help you with this but lots of people contact us about benefit forms and we can’t offer everyone an appointment. We try to give priority to people who’ll have difficulty completing the forms on their own, for instance because they can’t write, don’t speak English or because they have a serious mental health problem or learning disability.
Many people make a successful claim by filling in a form on their own or with a family member. There are guides online to help you do this:
If you think you’re going to miss the deadline to return a form you should call the organisation that sent it to you and request an extension.
You can challenge most decisions made about your benefits. There are two steps to challenging a decision:
- mandatory reconsideration, which is where you ask the benefits agency to look at their decision again.
- appealing to an independent tribunal. You can’t do this until you have the result of a mandatory reconsideration in writing.
The best way to apply for reconsideration using the CRMR1 mandatory reconsideration request form on GOV.UK. You can also apply for reconsideration by calling the benefits agency or writing to them. Their contact details should be at the top of the decision letter.
It’s unlikely that the benefits agency will change their decision when you apply for reconsideration. A tribunal is more likely to find in your favour. Once you have your reconsideration decision you can appeal to a tribunal using the SSCS1 form on GOV.UK. You can do this online or in writing.
If you’re challenging a decision you should check the date on your decision letter or reconsideration notice. You have 1 month from that date to apply for reconsideration or appeal to a tribunal. If you miss a deadline you may still be able to challenge the decision, but you’ll need to explain why you didn’t do this in time.
Citizens Advice have guides to challenging DWP benefit decisions.
The quickest way to get advice from us about Universal Credit is via our Help to Claim service, which can help you up until you receive you first correct payment of Universal Credit and can advise you whether you should be claiming Universal Credit or another benefit.
We run Help to Claim sessions across the borough, including at our offices and local Jobcentres. The schedule for drop-in sessions is on the Help to Claim page. You can also get advice by using the national Help to Claim helpline or webchat service.
Find out more about Help to Claim.
When you claim Universal Credit it ends any claims you have for older benefits like Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment & Support Allowance, Tax Credits and Housing Benefit.
Once you’ve claimed Universal Credit you can’t go back to an older benefit, even if you get less money on Universal Credit or you can’t get anything at all.
The DWP and HRMC can’t tell you whether you’ll be better off claiming Universal Credit. You can contact our Help to Claim service for independent advice about the advantages or disadvantages of moving to Universal Credit. You can also use an online benefit calculator like Turn2us or Entitledto if you’re comfortable using the internet.
Information and self-help resources
Information from Citizens Advice about benefits and tax credits. Includes information about benefits for people who are:
- working or unemployed
- sick or disabled
- a parent, a young person, an older person or a veteran.
Also includes information about council tax and housing costs, national insurance, payment of benefits and problems with benefits.
Organisations that can help
Still need help?
Find out how to contact us if you haven’t been able to resolve your problem using the information above.
Please bear in mind that we are a local charity and demand for our services is high. You may have to wait to speak to one of our team and we can’t offer everyone an appointment with an adviser.