Benefit overpayments

A benefit overpayment is housing benefit that has been paid to you or a third party on your behalf to which you were not entitled.

Overpayments happen when you have a change in your circumstances from a date you have already received payment for.

If you are paid more Council Tax Support than you are entitled to, this will be taken back from your council tax account and you will receive a new bill.

If you know a change in your circumstances is going to take place, tell us in advance, or as soon as possible afterwards. This must be done in writing and could prevent or greatly reduce any potential overpayment.

If you are a landlord you must tell us of any change that is reasonable for you to know, for example if a claimant moves away.

Always check the notification letters we send you. If you notice a mistake with your benefit calculation or any other mistake, contact us immediately.

If you report a change you should receive new notification letters, contact us if you do not hear anything.

If your housing benefit is overpaid we will write to you and tell you, giving full details of the overpayment. This letter will tell you:

  • what caused the overpayment
  • the period the overpayment relates to
  • the amount of the overpayment

If we are going to ask you to pay back the money, we will write to you again to tell you how this will be done.

If you do not agree with the overpayment you have the right to appeal against it. You must do this within one calendar month of the date on the original notification letter.

If you require further information on the calculation or assessment of the overpayment you must contact us.

We can recover the overpayment from the benefit claimant, someone acting on behalf of the claimant or whoever received the benefit payment (for example, your landlord).

Overpayments are not usually recovered from landlords unless they received the payment and they could have been expected to know they were being overpaid.

For example, if you move and we have paid your landlord direct, we would usually bill the landlord for the overpayment. If the overpayment was caused by a change in your circumstances, such as starting work, we would usually ask you to repay the overpayment.

We will look at each case on an individual basis and if we decide to recover the overpayment from you, you can appeal against this decision.

If you are still eligible to receive Housing Benefit we can make deductions from your weekly entitlement. This method can be used even if you have moved from our area and claim Housing Benefit from another council.

We can also apply to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to make deductions from some state benefits.

If you feel that the amount we are reducing your benefit by is causing you hardship, you can write to us and ask us to lower it.  You may find it useful to give us a breakdown of your income and outgoings. To do this please complete our Income and Expenditure online form. We may ask for more details and, depending on your circumstances, a reduction may not always be possible.

If you stop receiving Housing Benefit, we will send you an invoice. If you cannot afford to pay the money back at once, it may be possible to pay it back in instalments. An arrangement may be made to allow you to repay the overpayment weekly, fortnightly or monthly.  In order to make an arrangement you will need to provide us with your household income and expenditure, you and any partner’s employment or benefit details and your offer of repayment. You can do this by completing our Income and Expenditure online form. We will then contact you with a decision. If you fail to make payments as agreed further action will be taken.

If the overpayment is not paid back or an arrangement not agreed and kept to, we can apply for a County Court Judgment (CCJ) or set up a Direct Earnings Attachment (DEA).

Your account could also be passed to one of our Collection Agents for them to recover the debt on our behalf.

Independent debt advice is available from the following organisations:

For help with budgeting and managing your money please use the Money Advice Service online budget planner.

If we send you a barcoded invoice, it will have details on the back on how and where to pay it.

Online payment

One of the options available is to pay online. You can pay it via the internet by going to our online payment page and following the instructions on the back of your invoice. You will need your debit or credit card details available.

By phone

To pay by phone call 0300 3031014.  This is an automated payment line.  You will need your invoice number and your credit or debit card to make a payment.

Post Office and PayPoint outlets

Your barcoded invoice can be used when making payments with cash, cheque or a debit card at any Post Office.

You can also pay at any PayPoint outlet in the country.  Simply hand over your barcoded invoice and payment. Your payment will then be processed and your invoice returned to you, together with a printed receipt to confirm your payment.

Make sure you get a receipt for every payment.

You can also pay:

  • By post
  • By standing order

Having enough money to pay your bills can sometimes be a bit of a challenge.  If you are finding it hard to pay your account we can help you, call us as soon as possible on 0300 303 0164 and we will work with you to come up with a payment plan.

 

Our Officers will never judge you or make you feel bad about your situation.  We will always be happy to talk to you about your account and will work with you to find ways to manage your account even if you think you have no spare money to offer against your debt.

 

By dealing with your debt it will help you to feel less stressed and anxious and more in control.

 

Mental Wellbeing

Struggling with money and poor mental wellbeing is often linked.  Feeling low can make managing money tough and worrying about it can make you feel even worse.  When speaking to us if you are feeling very low or suicidal our Officers may suggest referring you to the Samaritans.  We have a referral system in place to ensure that you can get the help and support that you need.  You can talk to the Samaritans any time you like, in your own way, and off the record – about whatever is affecting you

Talk to us - Samaritans