Overpayments of Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support can happen if you do not inform us of changes in your circumstances within a month of the change, or because of other errors when calculating your benefit.
If you’re overpaid, we will send you a letter giving you full details of the overpayment including how the overpayment happened, the amount you were overpaid, the period of the overpayment, how we will recover the overpayment and what to do if you disagree with it.
If we have overpaid your Housing Benefit we will either reduce your Housing Benefit payment each week, send you a bill to pay, or ask the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to reduce your social security benefits and pay an amount towards the debt.
If we have overpaid your Council Tax Support, we will add the amount of the overpayment to your Council Tax bill. Our Council Tax team will then collect the overpayment by increasing your monthly payments.
What overpayments can we recover?
We can recover all overpayments, unless they are caused by an 'official error' and you could not reasonably have known you were being overpaid when you were being paid or told about your benefit. An official error is a mistake we or another government agency such as the DWP or Job Centre make.
Who is an overpayment recoverable from?
We can recover a Housing Benefit overpayment from the claimant, a person acting on the claimant's behalf or the person who received the overpayment, such as a landlord.
What happens if I disagree with the overpayment?
You have a month from the date we first told you about the overpayment to ask us to look at the decision again (known as a revision) or to make an appeal to the appeal tribunal. If we look at the decision again and you are still unhappy with our decision, you have a further month from when we notified you of our review decision, to ask for an appeal.
Find out more about the appeals process
What happens if I can't afford the overpayment?
If you are experiencing financial hardship and cannot afford to pay the overpayment we will consider reducing the rate of recovery. You can make an offer to pay a small amount on a weekly or monthly basis against the outstanding overpayment. However, your offer may not necessarily be accepted and you may be asked to complete a budgeting form.
What is ‘underlying entitlement’?
In some cases, it is possible to reduce the amount of your benefit overpayment by awarding 'underlying entitlement'. Underlying entitlement is the benefit that you would have been entitled to, had your claim been based on the correct details.
For example, if your Jobseeker's Allowance stopped because you started work but you did not tell us for two months and did not provide evidence of your new income, you could have been overpaid. If at a later date, you provide evidence of your income we can look to reduce the overpayment. There is no time limit for this information.
You must tell us about anything that might affect your benefit entitlement, even if you have already told the DWP. Examples of changes we need to know about are on our report a change page.
You can contact us about an overpayment by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 01483 755855.