An overpayment is when you are paid too much Housing Benefit or Council Tax reduction.
Overpayments occur most frequently when there has been a change in circumstances and we are not told straight away. Sometimes even if you tell us straight away there can still be an overpayment due to various reasons including:
- the way your benefit is paid
- when and how frequently, or
- if the changes take time to process.
What happens when an overpayment occurs?
If you are overpaid we will send you a decision letter which provides you with information about the amount you have been overpaid and when it was paid.
When will overpayments be recovered and who from?
Housing Benefit regulations define when overpayments are recoverable and who they should be recovered from.
The law says that:
All overpayments of Housing Benefit are recoverable except those caused by official error. In deciding if an overpayment has been caused by official error, the Council must consider whether a mistake was made by the Council, the Department for Work and Pensions, Revenue and Customs by acting incorrectly or failing to act where the claimant did not cause or materially contribute to the mistake. The regulations also state that official error overpayments are still recoverable if the claimant, a person acting on his behalf or any other person to whom the payment was made could reasonably have been expected to realise they were overpaid. The Council will consider the individual facts of each case to decide whether an official error has occurred and whether or not the overpayment is recoverable.
If an overpayment is caused by someone failing to tell the council something or by misrepresentation (deliberate or accidental), the Council may seek to recover the overpayment from that person whether they received the payment or not. There are occasions where more than one party could be at fault and the Council has a discretionary choice as to whom they choose to recover the overpayment from and there is no right appeal against the choice made by the Council.
Overpayments where no one is at fault must be recovered from the claimant, the partner or the landlord if Housing Benefit was paid to the landlord.
What happens if I am overpaid?
We will ask you to pay it back. If you still qualify for Housing Benefit, we will deduct a weekly sum from your new benefit until the Housing Benefit overpayment is recovered.
If you are not in receipt of Housing Benefit, we will either ask the Department for Work and Pensions to recover the overpayment from another benefit you are receiving or we will send you an invoice with information about how to pay. If you receive an invoice and are unable to pay in full it may be possible to enter into a repayment plan with the Sundry Debtors Team by telephoning 01623 463153 or 463180.
If you do not make arrangements to settle your invoice and you are working we will request your employer make deductions from your wages under a Direct Earnings Attachment.
If you receive too much Council Tax Reduction then we will recover this directly from your Council Tax account.