Housing benefit overpayments

Overpayments are benefit payments that have been paid out to people who are not entitled to them. Commonly the cause for this is people failing to tell us about changes in their circumstances.

If we find that you have received an overpayment, your notification letter will be found online through your Citizen Access Benefits account. See our Citizen Access Benefits page to see how to do this. We will give you details of:

  • the reason for the overpayment
  • when it occurred
  • the amount to be recovered
  • the method of recovery

We can impose civil penalties on households which fail without reasonable excuse to inform the council of a change in circumstance that results in an overpayment of housing benefit. For more information see our civil penalties page.

How to reduce your overpayment (Underlying Entitlement)

If you did not inform us of a change in your circumstances and an overpayment is made, we can look back over the period you have been overpaid and review your entitlement.

To do this you will need to provide evidence of all your income and savings for the period of the overpayment. We can then assess the amount of benefit that you would have been entitled to if we had known your correct circumstances at the time.

For example, if you started work but didn’t tell us, we would cancel your benefit back to when you started work and an overpayment would be created. If you then provided evidence of your wages and were still entitled to benefit, the amount you would qualify for would then be deducted from your overpayment.

We can only use Underlying Entitlement to reduce an overpayment. We cannot use it to pay you any extra benefit. You will then be notified of the remaining overpayment balance that you will need to pay back.

Without sufficient evidence of income and savings, it will not be possible to assess a claim for Underlying Entitlement and your overpayment will remain recoverable. You normally need to provide evidence of your income and savings within 1 month of the overpayment being notified to you.

Recovering overpayments

Housing benefit can be recovered in several ways depending on your circumstances.

Reducing benefit payments

If you remain entitled to housing benefit, we will deduct a standard amount from your weekly award.

If you receive housing benefit from another local authority in England, Wales or Scotland, we can ask them to apply deductions to your award on our behalf.

If you receive a benefit such as Universal Credit or Personal Independence Payments, we can ask the Department of Work and Pensions to apply a deduction on our behalf.

By invoice

If you no longer receive housing benefit from Bracknell Forest Council, we will send you an invoice. Details of how to pay the invoice will be shown on the back.

By a Direct Earnings Attachment (DEA)

If you are working, we can ask your employer to apply a Direct Earnings Attachment. Please see our DEA information page for more information.

Payment methods

Repayment amounts are advised on the invoice and there are a number of ways payments can be made:


You can pay in full using your debit or credit card. 

Make an online payment

24 hour telephone payments

You can pay by debit or credit card using our 24 hour telephone payments number 01344 352007 and follow the instructions given.

Please quote your invoice number which begins with a 4.

Alternatively, call 01344 351309 (during office hours only).

In person by cash or debit card

You can pay by cash or debit card at any Post Office, or by cash at any shop showing the Payzone retail sign.

You will need to take your invoice with you.

Through your bank or building society

If you would like to pay by Bacs or standing order, use the following account details:

Sort Code: 30-91-11
Account Number: 01893341

Quote your invoice number which begins with a 4.

What if I am unable to repay?

If you are unable to repay at the requested rate, email income.recovery@bracknell-forest.gov.uk to make arrange a repayment plan.

If you make no contact or offer of repayment, it is our policy to then seek recovery through either:

  • the county court - this will result in further costs being incurred, and these will be added to the already outstanding debt; this action will also result in a County Court Judgement
  • a deduction from your salary

Contact information

Welfare and Housing Service

Make an enquiry