What is an Overpayment?
An overpayment is when you’ve been paid more housing benefit than what you were entitled to. This usually occurs when you’ve had a change in circumstances that you haven’t informed us about.
Examples of changes in circumstances include:
- Changes in income
- Somebody has moved in or out of your home
- You have moved house or your rent changes
- Your employment situation has changed
- The circumstances of other adults in the household have changed
You can report changes in circumstances through this form to avoid overpayments change of Circumstances online form.
How will I know if I have received an overpayment?
We will write and tell you when this happens. We will tell you;
- What caused the overpayment
- The dates of the overpayment
- The amount of the overpayment
- What to do if you disagree with the overpayment
If you’re the landlord, we’ll tell you who the overpayment is for, their address, the period, and amount of the overpayment
If we’re going to ask you to pay back the overpayment, we will contact you again to tell you how this will be done. If you don’t agree that you have received an overpayment, you may want to appeal.
How is the overpayment recovered?
There are several ways we can recover this money, including:
- If you’re still getting Housing Benefit, your benefit may be reduced each week to recover the overpayment.
- If you no longer qualify for benefit, an invoice may be sent to you to be paid in full or instalments.
- If your landlord was paid your benefit, we may ask the landlord to repay the overpayment.
We have a duty to recover overpayments of benefit if you’re not entitled to it. Where necessary, we can take criminal proceedings in respect of fraudulent overpayments.
If your circumstances change, don’t forget to let us know as soon as possible and if you need further advice, please email benefits.
How can I repay my overpayment?See the ways to pay your overpayment here
What if I don’t pay the overpayment?
If you don’t respond to the demands and fail to set up a repayment plan or pay the invoice in full, the next stage of recovery could be put in place. If you don’t pay your invoice you will be sent a final demand after one month.
The recovery option could be one of the following:
- Direct Earnings Attachment: If you are in work, we can request direct deductions to be taken from your wages.
- Deductions from State Benefits: We can request from the Department for Work and Pensions for deductions to state benefit, such as Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payments.
- Debt Recovery Agents: We could ask debt recovery agents to collect your overpayment.
- Collection by other local authorities: If you have moved out of the area and are claiming housing benefit at another local authority, we can ask the new council to reduce your ongoing housing benefit.
- Court Action: We could register the debt with the courts and this incurs further costs which you will be liable to pay.
Appealing the decision
If you disagree with the decision you can:
- Ask for an explanation
- Write to the office and as us to reconsider the decision
- Appeal the decision if you disagree with the overpayment.
An appeal can only be made within one month of the date of the original decision. Further appeals information can be found on the Housing benefit page.