If you have a query or wish to repay an overpayment then please contact our overpayments team on 01403 215 362.
What is an overpayment?
An overpayment is when more housing benefit or council tax support is given than you are entitled to.
What causes an overpayment?
There are many ways in which you can be paid too much benefit.
The main causes are:
- not telling us about changes of circumstances. You have a duty to report these
- mistakes or delays in the processing of your claim or change of circumstances
- fraudulent claims
Can we get back an overpayment?
Most overpayments can be recovered. If the mistake was ours: we will only ask you to pay it back if we think you should have known that the benefit being paid to you was wrong.
Who can we get back overpayments from?
The rules are quite clear. We can recover housing benefit overpayments from the claimant, claimant’s partner, landlord, agent or appointee. Overpayments of council tax support can only be recovered from the person liable to pay the council tax.
How do we get back overpayments?
We may get back overpayments of housing benefit and council tax support by any lawful method. An overpayment of housing benefit cannot be recovered from an award of council tax support or vice versa. The following are some of the methods we use to recover overpayments:
- if you no longer get housing benefit we will send you an invoice
- if you still get housing benefit we will reduce your benefit payment each week until the overpayment has been recovered in full
- we may ask the department for work and pensions to reduce you or your partner’s benefits each week until it’s paid
- if Housing Benefit was paid to a landlord/agent we may recover direct from the housing benefit paid to that landlord/agent for other tenants
- an overpayment of council tax support will be added to your council tax account and a revised bill issued
- via an attachment to your earnings
Overpayments and fraud
We may offer the chance to pay an ‘administrative penalty’ rather than face a prosecution for fraud. This is if the overpayment was caused by an ‘act or omission’ on your part and there are grounds for bringing a prosecution against you for fraud.
You do not have to agree to the penalty, you can opt for the chance of prosecution instead. The amount of an administrative penalty is 50% of the recoverable overpayment.