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Benefit overpayments

A benefit overpayment is when a person is paid more benefit than they are entitled to. Here are some examples of how overpayments occur:

  • Your income support or Job Seekers Allowance stops
  • Your income or capital increases
  • Someone moves into your property
  • You move out of a property
  • Any of your joint tenants move out of the property or have other people move in with them
  • The Benefits Service makes a mistake causing too much benefit to be paid

If your circumstances change you should tell us straightaway by completing our online change of circumstances form. If you do not tell us and we decide that you did so fraudulently you might be prosecuted or face some other sanction.

Once this has been checked we will send you a decision letter telling you of any changes to your benefits. Contact us straight away if you think that any of the information is wrong.


What happens when benefits are overpaid?

If you are overpaid we will send you a decision letter explaining how this has occurred. If we have made a mistake we can still ask you to repay the overpayment if we think you should have know about the mistake but did not tell us.

If we have paid the benefit to your landlord but you have committed benefit fraud we will always recover the overpayment from you.


Repayments of overpaid Council Tax support

If you receive an overpayment on your Council Tax, we will send you a new bill with the overpaid amount added back to what you owe.

Any adjustments to the amount of your entitlement to Local Council Tax Support will be added or deducted from your account.


Repayments of overpaid Housing Benefit

If you receive an overpayment on your Housing Benefit we will recover it from your new award. It will be recovered at a rate of £11.10 per week, unless you were overpaid fraudulently, in which case the recovery rate will be £18.50 per week.

If you receive less than £11.10 or £18.50 per week we will reduce the recovery rate. The rate will also increase if you have any disregarded income, we can add half the amount of the disregard to the above figures. 

If you cannot afford the deduction we make then you should contact the Overpayments Section to negotiate a new rate. We will ask you to provide proof of your income and expenditure before doing this.


What if I no longer receive Housing Benefits?

If you no longer receive Housing Benefit we will send you an invoice with instructions on how to repay. When you receive the invoice please contact the Overpayments section on 01509 634841 to arrange repayment.

If you ignore the invoice we will send you reminders, if you ignore these we can apply for an attachment to your benefits, attachment to your earnings or refer the debt for County Court Action. This will result in you owing both the debt and legal costs.

If we recover overpaid benefit from your landlord they will ask you to make extra payments to them to avoid or clear rent arrears.


Getting the overpayment reduced

In certain circumstances we may be able to reduce the amount of an overpayment you have to pay back. We may be able to work out what your entitlement would have been if we had known your correct circumstances at the time of the overpayment. This is called underlying entitlement.

Any underlying entitlement will be used to reduce the amount of the overpayment. If we are able to do this we will write to ask you for the information we need.

You must provide this within one month of our request. If you don't you will owe the full overpayment.

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