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Universal Credit (UC) is gradually replacing tax credits, and some other social security benefits. Universal credit is now available across the UK and HMRC state that it is no longer possible for anyone to make a brand-new claim for tax credits. The only exception is for certain people who are granted refugee status. Instead, people are expected to claim UC or pension credit depending on their circumstances.  Currently, existing tax credit claimants can continue to renew their tax credits and/or add extra elements to their claim. See our existing tax credit claimants page for more information. Our understanding is that the majority of existing tax credit claimants will move to either universal credit or pension credit by the end of the 2024/25 tax year. You can find out more about this in our universal credit section. 

Updated on 6 April 2024

Challenging a universal credit decision

There is a formal appeal process if you want to challenge a decision about universal credit

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If you disagree with a decision about your universal credit claim, you can contact your work coach or the universal credit helpline to ask for an explanation about the decision. But there is also a formal appeal process you can follow. There are time limits with the formal appeal process and you should start it within one month of the date of the decision.

The first stage in the appeals process is to ask DWP or DfC for a mandatory reconsideration. This means DWP must look at the decision again and check whether it is correct. You need to ask for this within 1 month of the date of decision.

Once DWP have done their mandatory reconsideration, they should contact you with the outcome. You should receive a mandatory reconsideration notice. You can then appeal to a social security tribunal to have the decision looked at independently.

If you are looking to challenge a universal credit decision, you may wish to get specialist advice from a welfare rights adviser.

Mandatory reconsideration

The first stage in the appeal process is to ask DWP for a mandatory reconsideration.

This can be done either:

  • Via your universal credit online journal
  • By telephone to the universal credit helpline
  • By letter (sent to the DWP)
  • By filling in and sending a mandatory reconsideration form (available on the GOV.UK website)

It is important to try and explain why you think the decision is wrong and you can include evidence to support your request. If posting documents, it is a good idea to write your national insurance number, name and date of birth on each and get proof of postage.

It is possible to ask for a mandatory reconsideration after the one month deadline but you need to show you have good reason for missing the 1 month deadline. You will need to do this within 13 months of the date of decision.

Appeal to First-tier Tribunal

After DWP have had another look at the decision and done their mandatory reconsideration, they will send you a letter with the outcome and explanation.

If you are unhappy with the outcome, you can appeal to the Social Security and Child Support Tribunal for your claim and appeal to be looked at independently.

You have 1 month from the date on your mandatory reconsideration notice to apply to a tribunal. The Tribunal may extend the time you have to appeal, up to 13 months, if they think you have a good reason for missing the 1 month deadline.

You can appeal online, or fill in and send the SSCS1 form by post.

No universal credit decision

Because of the way the universal credit rules work, although the amount of universal credit can change from one assessment period to the next, this does not necessarily mean DWP are making a new formal decision each month. This can happen where the amount awarded to you changes because the amount of your income has changed. It should still be possible to challenge this but you may need to ask DWP to actually make a decision on the award that you are looking to challenge. Once DWP have made the decision, it will carry appeal rights as normal and you can start the appeal process.

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