When we pay you too much Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support this is called an overpayment. This can occur if you have a change in your circumstances.

If you do have a change in your circumstances and do not tell the benefits team straight away you may be overpaid. Even if you tell us straight away overpayments can still occur.  The frequent causes of an overpayment include:

  • A change in income or capital of yourself or a member of your household
  • A change in a government benefit
  • Change of address
  • Your household has changed (someone moved in or out)
When an overpayment occurs

If you are overpaid Housing Benefit we will send you a decision letter. This will explain to you:

  • Dates that the overpayment covers
  • The weekly amount of benefit you were paid at the time
  • The weekly amount of benefit you should have received at the time
  • Weekly amount overpaid
  • Number of weeks that you have been overpaid
  • Total amount that you have overpaid
  • Reason for the overpayment (or reasons)
  • Person the overpayment will be recovered from

If we paid your landlord the overpaid amount we can ask them to repay the overpayment, but we always have the right to recover from you, such as in cases of benefit fraud.

If you are overpaid Council Tax Support you will receive a revised bill showing the reduced amount of Council Tax Support. This will increase the amount of outstanding Council Tax that you will need to pay.

  • If you continue to receive housing benefit we can recover the overpayment from your new ongoing weekly award. This is called ongoing benefit recovery. The recovery rate that we use will vary depending on your income and circumstances
  • Whilst ongoing benefit deductions are made from your benefit to recover the overpayment it is important that you pay the recovered amount in addition to any rent you already pay to ensure you do not fall into arrears
  • If the rate of deduction causes you financial hardship then you should contact the benefits team to discuss the matter
  • If you no longer receive housing benefit then we will send you an invoice with instructions on how to pay. When you receive the invoice please contact us to pay in full or to discuss an arrangement to pay by instalments
  • If your overpayment is for Council Tax Support then we will usually recover the overpayment amount directly out of your Council Tax account. You would then usually receive an amended bill

Further Action

Do not ignore a request for repayment of overpaid Housing Benefit. If you do not contact us by the due date further action will be taken which includes:

  • Asking the DWP to recover the overpayment from your other benefits
  • Asking an external debt collection agency to start recovery action
  • Approach the Court and ask for a County Court Judgement (CCJ) for the overpayment. This will incur additional costs (and interest) which you will have to pay back to us. The overpayment will then be pursued by the court

If you do not agree with the overpayment you have the right to ask for an explanation or appeal against the decision.

The minimum recovery from ongoing benefit is £12.75 per week or £21.25 per week if fraud has been proven. The recovery rates may be increased depending on your financial circumstances.

Last updated 29 September 2023
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