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Direct Earnings Attachments for employers

Bracknell Forest Council is responsible for recovering money owed to it in respect of debts arising under the Social Security Administration Act 1992. From April 2013, Local Authorities have been given the power to recover overpaid Housing Benefit by deductions from earnings without the need to apply for a court order. This is done by using Direct Earnings Attachments (DEA).

Local authorities were given this power by The Social Security (Overpayments and Recovery) Regulations 2013.

Why we use a DEA

Not everyone enters into a voluntary repayment agreement. DEAs give us the opportunity to recover overpaid benefits from debtors who are employed if they:

  • refuse to repay
  • are unable to agree an acceptable repayment plan
  • have defaulted on a voluntary repayment arrangement

Employers responsibilities

Employers must implement a DEA for the council. You have a legal obligation to do so unless you are a new business (for instance, if you started trading within the current financial year), or a micro business (having fewer than 10 employees). In such cases you are not obliged to operate a DEA although you may do so if this is agreed with your employee.

If you fail to comply with your duties, you could be subject, on conviction, to a fine of up to £1000.

As an employer, you have a legal obligation to:

  • implement a DEA when we ask you to make deductions from the employee's net earnings
  • make payments of the amounts deducted to us by the 19th day of the month following the month the deduction is made
  • keep a record of each deduction taken and the employee from whose earnings it was made
  • continue to operate the DEA until the balance is paid in full, or your employee leaves your employment
  • make sure you take the right amount from your employee's earnings each week or month and pay it to us

You have a duty to notify us if:

  • we ask you to operate a DEA for someone who does not work for you
  • an employee for whom you are operating a DEA leaves your employment

You must write to us at the address shown on this letter within 10 days if any of the above applies to you. You should also let us know if your business ceases trading.

You have a duty to notify your employee in writing of:

  • the amount of the deduction taken, including any amount taken for administrative costs (if this information is shown on their pay slip, it will suffice)
  • how that deduction was calculated

You must do this (and record it) no later than the payday after the one on which the deduction for the DEA was taken.

Operating a DEA

For information on how to operate a DEA, including advice on calculating the amount, please refer to our guidance document.

DEA payments schedule

For payments by BACS  or cheque you must send us a Direct Earnings Attachment payments schedule.

A blank schedule for you to use is below.

The Direct Earnings Attachment payments schedule must include the following details for each person for whom you were asked to make deductions from earnings:

  • their full names (forenames and surname)
  • their invoice Number as shown on the DEA notice you were sent.
  • the amount of the deduction (in pounds sterling) that has been deducted or the reason why a deduction cannot be made when appropriate
  • the amount of the automated credit transfer or cheque must be the same as the total amount of deductions shown on the Direct Earnings Attachment payments schedule. Please do not send cash through the post

Email the Direct Earnings Attachment payments schedule to and the payment can follow. Please include 'DEA notice' in the subject of your email.

Contact information

Welfare and Housing Service

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