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Overpayments

An overpayment is any amount of Housing Benefit that you are not entitled to.

cash

We will take into account any benefit you should have received if you had told us of the change at the correct time. You can sometimes reduce an overpayment by telling us what your true circumstances were at the time of the overpayment.

You can avoid overpayments by telling us of changes in your circumstances immediately. If you know a change is going to happen in the future tell us before it happens.

You must tell us about:

  • Changes in your income especially if entitlement to Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance, Employment and support allowance or Pension Credit stops
  • Changes in your savings
  • Changes in the rent you pay
  • If someone moves into or moves out of your household
  • If someone in your household goes into hospital
  • If you start work
  • If you temporarily leave the property
  • If you move out

This is not a complete list of every change you must tell us about, if you are not sure tell us anyway.  Usually if you delay telling us of a change you will be worse off.

Landlords should tell us if they believe the tenant might have moved out. Landlords should also tell us of any other changes they are aware of that might affect the amount of benefit paid.

How will we recover the overpayment

Recovering the Housing Benefit we pay out

If you are receiving Housing Benefit we will recover any overpayment by reducing the amount we pay to you. If we are paying your landlord you will need to increase the amount you pay them. If you do not pay more to your landlord, you could be in rent arrears and will risk losing your home. The amount by which we reduce your benefit depends upon whether or not you are working. If the amount of the deduction causes you hardship you should contact us on 0300 123 1384.

Landlords

If we are asking you, the landlord, to repay the overpayment we can deduct the amount owed from Housing Benefit paid to you for your other tenants. You must then treat the other tenants' Housing Benefit as being received in full.

Recovery from other benefits

If you are not receiving Housing Benefit we can recover the overpayment from other benefits you receive. We can do this by asking the Department of Work and Pensions to make deductions from the benefit or allowance you are paid.

Recovery from earnings

If you are working we can recover the overpayment from your earnings by a Direct Earnings Attachment. This allows us to recover the money owed to us by asking your employer to make deductions from your earnings and pay those deductions to us. 

The law allows us to do this without applying to a Civil Court and your employer is legally bound to comply if requested to do so.

Regulations provide that a proportion of your earnings are protected, this is calculated at 60% of net earnings.

The amount your employer will take each time you are paid will depend on the amount of your earnings and could be up to 20% of your net earnings.

Your employer may also charge you an administration fee: this will not exceed £1.00 for each payment deducted from your earnings.

By sending you a bill

We can ask you to repay the amount you owe by sending you a bill. If you cannot pay the debt in full, you can pay by a short series of instalments. To discuss instalment options you should contact the Corporate Debt Collection Team on 0300 123 1384.

Housing benefit overpayments and the courts

If you do not repay the money you owe or do not keep to an instalment plan we have agreed with you, we will take you to court. We can do this in two ways:

  • We can obtain a Court Order through the County Court. We have to prove the debt to the court and the court will grant the order without a hearing.
  • We can ask the court to enforce our decision that you owe a Housing Benefit debt to the council.

In either case you will be charged costs and once the court has granted us an order we can then:

  • instruct the bailiffs to seize your goods
  • ask the court to require your employer to deduct the amount owed from your wages
  • ask the court to place a charging order on your assets or bank accounts
  • as a last resort make you bankrupt

If we use the powers of the court to recover the debt you will be charged additional costs. Your credit rating will also be affected because you will have a county court judgement (CCJ) against you.

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Article utilities:  Bookmark and Share Print Print this page Last updated: 04 Aug 2015 at 14:17