Housing benefit - overpayments
What is an overpayment?
An overpayment is when we pay you or your landlord an amount of
Housing or Council Tax benefit, which you were not entitled to
receive it. If we have paid you too much benefit, we will usually
ask you to pay back the amount we have overpaid.
Why do overpayments happen?
They happen for various reasons. Here are some examples:
- You may have forgotten to tell us that your income has
increased, for example you have had a pay rise or your tax credit
award or pension amount has changed.
- Somebody may have moved into or out of your home
- You may have moved out of your home and not told us.
- You may have started work or changed jobs.
- If you have other adults living with you, their circumstances
may have changed.
You must tell us about any changes and not rely on anyone else
to do it for you. Even if you have told the Department for Works
and Pensions (DWP) about your change in circumstances, you must
still let us know.
How will we tell you if you have an overpayment
We will send you a letter giving you the full details of the
overpayment. The letter will tell you why the overpayment happened,
the amount you were overpaid and the period of the overpayment. It
will also tell you how we intend to recover the overpayment and
what to do if you disagree with the overpayment.
What to do if you disagree with the overpayment
If you disagree with the overpayment after reading your letter,
you may ask, in writing, for a more detailed explanation, or ask us
to look again at our decision. You need to do this within one month
of the date on the letter.
Things you can challenge are:
- if we can recover the overpayment or not;
- who we can recover it from;
- how we have worked it out;
- your savings and investments have reduced (only if we overpaid
you because your savings and investments had increased); and
- if you had an underlying entitlement (you were actually
entitled to receive some of the overpayment), see section
'Can the overpayment be reduced?'
Things that you cannot challenge are:
- if we 'should' recover the overpayment or not; and
- how we choose to recover the overpayment.
If you're not satisfied with our decision or how we explain our
decision, you can appeal. You must appeal in writing. You should
make it clear which decision you are appealing against and your
Send your appeal to us (our address is on your benefit
letters).You must do this within one month of the decision you are
appealing against. Your appeal will be heard by a tribunal run by
the Tribunals Service, who are independent of us.
How we recover the overpayment
- If you are still getting Housing benefit, we may reduce your
benefit each week to recover the overpayment.
- If we are not paying you Housing benefit, we may send you a
bill and you should make arrangements to pay us.
- If we paid your landlord your benefit, we may ask the landlord
to repay the overpayment in certain circumstances.
- We can ask the Department for Works and Pensions to take money
out of your other benefits to collect the overpayment.
- In cases where you have moved out of the area, they can take
money from any Housing benefit paid to you by another council.
- If we have overpaid your Council Tax benefit, we will add the
amount of the overpayment to your Council Tax bill. Our Council Tax
office will collect the overpayment by increasing your monthly
We will not recover overpayments we have paid you for Housing
benefit from your Council Tax or overpayments for Council Tax from
your Housing benefit.
Can the overpayment be reduced?
In some circumstances we may reduce the amount we overpaid you
if you tell us about your correct circumstances throughout the
period of the overpayment. If we give you benefit for the period
you were overpaid it is called 'underlying entitlement'. If you do
have an underlying entitlement (which means you were actually
entitled to receive some of the benefit), we will use this to
reduce the overpayment.
We will ask that you write and explain your
circumstances and give us documents as proof (such as details
of your income and bank statements for the period) before we work
out your underlying entitlement. If we find that you are entitled
to any benefit for this period we can only use this amount to
reduce what we have overpaid you, it is not an award of Housing
benefit or Council Tax benefit.
What should you do if you cannot afford to pay your landlord
what we take from your Housing benefit?
If you want us to change the amount we take from your Housing
benefit or your payments, contact us with details of your income
and expenditure and suggest an amount that you feel able to
What should you do if you are having difficulties paying your
Council Tax because we have added your Council Tax benefit
overpayment to it?
If you have a problem paying you must contact us to make an
arrangement. The telephone number for the Council Tax office is
01622 602003. If you don't pay or contact us, we may give you a
court order or send bailiffs to recover the amount you owe. We will
add these costs to the amount you owe us.
What you should do if you receive an invoice for the
overpayment but can't afford to pay it back all at once
If you cannot pay the full amount, we can arrange for you to pay
it back in instalments. Before arranging to pay by instalments, you
may need to give us details of your income and outgoings. If you do
not contact us to arrange to pay, we may register your debt with
the county court and ask them to make you to pay it back. This
is the same as having a court order against you and it will affect
your credit rating. We will also add these costs to the amount you
How you can get help with debts
You can help to solve your debt problems by contacting the
people you owe money to. Many companies will be helpful if you talk
to them. You can't ignore your debts so arranging to pay small
amounts is better than paying nothing at all. If organisations
won't accept what you offer to repay, get advice.
You can drop in and speak to a Citizens Advice Bureau advisor at
Maidstone Borough Council's Gateway in King Street,
Maidstone between 10am - 4pm weekdays or phone 01622