Welfare Benefits Advice & Advocacy

Contact our Welfare Benefits Service

Access to our Welfare Rights appeals and Representation service (WRARS) is usually by referral from partner advice services in the Norfolk Community advice network NCAN Common Referral System.  

If you have problems with getting referred you can call the Welfare Benefits team directly on 01603 496623 and choose option 4, or email us at wrars@ncls.co.uk. If our Welfare Benefit service has assisted you previously you can self-refer. 

Please note that we only advise on appeals, we cannot give general advice on benefits, such as entitlement. For help with this please visit Citizens Advice .

About our Welfare Benefits Service

We provide a free, confidential advice and advocacy service for clients in Norfolk needing help with a benefit appeal and/or a benefit tribunal hearing.

We are able to help with all types of benefits including: Universal Credit, Employment Support Allowance, Personal Independence Payment, Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance, Housing Benefit, Local Housing Allowance, Council Tax Reduction, Job Seeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Tax credits, Bereavement Benefits and Pension Credit.

We can assist with entitlement appeals (if your claim has been refused, entitlement reduced or stopped following a review), overpayment appeals and technical appeals (including failure to attend), backdating, living together, capital, or income appeals. There are a few overpayments that are automatically recoverable that cannot be appealed (for Universal Credit), the decision letter will tell you. Our debt service can advise if you are struggling to repay this.    

If you require assistance with a benefit appeal please read the guide below and then ask to be referred to us by an Agency in the NCAN network. If any of those agencies have helped you with the previous stages in your benefit case they should be the agency you ask to refer you to NCLS.  

I need help applying for a benefit or I need help requesting a mandatory reconsideration

We cannot advice on whether you qualify for a benefit, or help with making a claim. Please contact your local Citizens, Age UK (if over 50), or search the NCAN Advice Directory which gives details of agencies that provide entitlement advice.

I have received a negative benefit decision

You have 1 month to request a review of the decision (late requests can be made up to 12 months late but only with good grounds for lateness). Many of the local entitlement advice services can assist with this stage.  

I have received my mandatory reconsideration notice and need help with submitting my appeal.

If you have received your mandatory reconsideration notice and need help with submitting your appeal to the Social Security Tribunal, or need advice about the merits of appealing and the process, we can assist you.

You have one month from the date of the mandatory reconsideration notice letter to lodge an appeal with the Social Security Tribunal. You can lodge a late appeal up to 12 months after the date of the mandatory reconsideration notice letter provided that you have good reasons as to why your appeal was not made within the one-month deadline.

I have appealed and have received the Secretary of State’s response.

If you have received the Secretary of State’s response (the appeal bundle) and are waiting for a Tribunal date we can give you advice regarding the merits of your appeal, support you through the appeal process, prepare your case for Tribunal and represent you at the Tribunal hearing provided your case has sufficient legal merit.

During Covid 19 there are no oral Tribunal hearings and all appeals are being heard remotely via phone or video hearings.  You should still ask for an oral hearing on your appeal form and then choose which of the remote formats you would prefer.  We can represent at both phone and video Tribunals, and at face to face hearings when they resume. Tribunal hearings on the papers alone have low success rates and we do not recommend them.

I have my Tribunal date

We can represent you at Tribunal if you are resident in Norfolk and you have received your hearing date. Your appeal must have sufficient legal merit.  We will explain this when we assess your case.

I have had a Tribunal adjourned or my appeal has been dismissed

If you have been to Tribunal and your appeal has been adjourned or dismissed we can advise and assist with the adjournment directions and rehearing and can Represent at the relisted hearing if the case has sufficient legal merit.

If your appeal was dismissed, you have one month from the date of the Tribunal to request a statement of reasons for a Tribunal decision to see if here are grounds to appeal, or to request a set aside on limited procedural grounds. We can advise and assist with Upper Tribunal appeals.

I am an advice agency

We are available to take referrals for appeal stage advice, bundle stage, and tribunal representation for all benefits, both at First-tier and Upper Tribunal level. You will need to refer the client to us via the NCAN Common Referral System. When making the referral, please identify the client’s issue, any key dates (e.g. mandatory reconsideration notice date, hearing date, time and venue), a contact telephone number and / or email address for the client and attach any documentation (e.g. mandatory reconsideration notice, appeal bundle, hearing date notice letter).

If your organisation is not already a member and you would like advice about joining please contact NCAN by emailing info@ncan.co.ukAlternatively you can ask any of the benefit advice giving agencies on the NCAN directory to refer your client to us.

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