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Why have I been overpaid?

What happens when an overpayment occurs?

Who will overpayments be recovered from?

What happens if I am overpaid?

When you are paid too much Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction it is called an overpayment. 

Why have I been overpaid?

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. This may be because of various reasons including:

  • the way your benefit is paid
  • when and how frequently, or
  • if the changes take time to process.

Frequent causes of an overpayment are:

  • a change in income or capital of yourself or a member of your household
  • a change in state benefit
  • you have changed address, or
  • your household has changed (someone had moved in or out).

What happens when an overpayment occurs?

If you are overpaid we will send you a decision letter. This will explain to you:

  • The dates that the overpayment covers.
  • The weekly amount of benefit you were paid at the time.
  • The weekly amount of benefit you should have received at the time.
  • The weekly amount overpaid.
  • The number of weeks you have been overpaid.
  • The total amount you have been overpaid.
  • The reason (or reasons) for the overpayment.
  • Who the overpayment will be recovered from.

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 overpayment is recovered.

If the overpayment is too large or we cannot recover the overpayment by any of the means shown above, we will send you an invoice. This can be paid in full but if you have difficulty paying you can agree a payment arrangement with the Sundry Debtors section. The overpayment can also be recovered by making deductions from your wages by a Direct Earnings Attachment (DEA).

If your overpayment is for Council Tax Reduction then we will usually recover your overpayment directly out of your Council Tax account. You would usually receive an amended bill.

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