Overpayment of benefits
If we decide that you've been paid too much benefit, we call this an 'overpayment'. If we decide that you've been overpaid, we'll send you a letter which will tell you the following:
- Why we gave you too much benefit
- How much the overpayment is
- The period the overpayment is for
- If you have to pay back the amount
- How to pay back the amount
- How you can appeal if you think this is wrong
There are different ways in which we may ask you to repay your overpayment.
Overpayments of council tax support
These are added directly to your council tax account and you'll be sent a new council tax bill which will explain how to pay the money you owe.
Overpayments of housing benefit
If you're still getting housing benefit:
We'll recover your overpayment from your ongoing housing benefit entitlement. We'll write to you about how much we'll be recovering from your benefit each week.
This means your housing benefit will be reduced until the overpayment is fully recovered.
If we pay your housing benefit direct to your landlord you'll need to arrange to pay this shortfall otherwise your rent account may fall into arrears.
If you're not getting housing benefit anymore:
We'll send you a bill advising you how much to pay back. You can pay this back to us in full, or you can contact us to make an instalment arrangement.
Who can we recover from?
- The customer (the person whose name the claim was in)
- The customer’s partner, if the housing benefit is moved into the partner's name, we can still recover from the ongoing entitlement
- The person to whom the benefit was paid (eg claimant / landlord or other)
- A person who has caused an overpayment because they failed to tell us something
- The estate of a deceased person
- The appointee or the power of attorney for the claimant
The Benefits Service has the discretion to decide who the overpayment will be recovered from. Each case will be considered on its own merits.
We won't normally recover an overpayment from a landlord if they have informed us or the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that they suspect there has been an overpayment, as long as:
- The overpayment has been caused by the customer trying to commit a fraud, or by deliberately not telling us about a change in circumstances
- The Benefits Service is satisfied that the landlord has not been party to the occurrence of overpayment
How to avoid an overpayment of benefit
If you have a change in your circumstances that may affect your housing benefit or council tax support entitlement, you must report it to the Benefits Service straight away. If you're not sure, report it anyway and we'll advise accordingly.
It's an offence not to report a change in circumstances as soon as you can. It's important that you notify us immediately of any change so that you avoid being overpaid benefit which you may have to pay back to us.
It's important that you tell the DWP and HMRC about any change which could affect the other benefits or tax credits you receive. Our Benefits Service is not responsible for reporting changes to other organisations on your behalf.
Failure to report a change in circumstances to the appropriate office may result in an error in your payments, and can be classed as being fraudulent.