How to appeal against your financial assessment

As a service user, you have been assessed to pay a charge for the service provided or arranged by the Council and you feel that:

• the charge you have been assessed to pay is incorrect; and/or
• the financial assessment has failed to take into account all of your circumstances; and/or
• you have further information which might lead to a different financial assessment.

Then you may wish to use the appeals process to have the charges reviewed.

Please note that there is a separate procedure relating to assessed care needs, the application of the eligibility criteria and the type of services which have been provided following a care needs assessment. Non-financial queries should be directed to the Customer Feedback Team. Please see the list of useful contacts on page 62.

Whilst any appeal is being processed, you will be expected to pay the charges for services as assessed. If your appeal is upheld, the Council will make the necessary adjustments to your account.

Financial Assessment Appeals Process

Stage 1
You should write to the Council within 20 working days of receiving your financial assessment, telling them why you are not happy with the charges you are being asked to pay. The  assessment officer will clarify any parts of the assessment process that are not clear, and review the assessment in light of any further information that you provide. The Council aims to deal with your appeal within 10 working days of you contacting them; this may be extended by a further 10 working days.

If you are still not satisfied, you may wish to take your appeal to the second stage. Again, you must do this within 20 working days of the receiving the ‘stage one’ appeal decision.

Stage 2
You should write to the Council telling them why you are not happy with the charges you are being asked to pay. A panel of senior managers makes a full re-assessment of your financial  situation to review the charges that you should pay if the total amount in dispute is over £250. Appeals disputing less than £250 will be considered by a Strategic Finance Manager. This is to improve efficiency and to fast-track decisions on appeals for less than £250. The Council aims to give you a decision within 25 working days. In some cases, if agreeable with the appellant, there may be an extension of up to 65 working days to investigate and prepare cases.

If you are still not happy with the charges you are being asked to pay after a full re-assessment, you may wish to take your appeal to stage 3. Again, you must do this within 20 working days of receiving the ‘stage two’ appeal decision.

Stage 3
You should write to the Council telling them the reasons why you are still unhappy with the charges you are being asked to pay. A review panel comprising of two elected members of the County Council and an independent chairperson will hear your appeal. An officer of the department who has knowledge of the case and the relevant charging policy will advise the panel.

The Council will acknowledge your request for a review within two working days of receiving it.

The review panel will be convened within 30 working days of your request for a stage three appeal. You and/or your representative will be given the opportunity to present your case to the panel.

Once the panel’s report has been received the Council will, within 15 working days, notify you in writing of the panel’s decision and any recommendations they have made. The decision of the panel will be final. Please visit the website www.northamptonshire.gov.uk for further information.