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, we will write to you. We will give you details of:
- the reason for the overpayment
- when it occurred
- the amount to be recovered
- the method of recovery
Please read your overpayment letter explained for more information about this letter.
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.
Please note that 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.
How do we recover overpayments?
Reducing weekly benefit payments
If you still have an entitlement to housing benefit, the overpayment is recovered by reducing the weekly benefit, and offsetting the overpayment by the amount that has been deducted from the benefit entitlement.
Setting up a debtor account
This method of recovery involves setting up a debtor account and sending you an invoice that you will be responsible for paying.
Make an offer of repayment
You can make an offer of repayment by filling in our offer of repayment form.
What if I am unable to repay?
If you are unable to repay at the requested rate we may be able to reduce the amount of the instalments. This can be arranged by contacting us.
If you make no contact or offer of repayment, it is our policy to then seek recovery through either:
- a debt recovery agent
- the county court
- a deduction from your salary
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.