When you receive too much benefit (overpayment)
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Sometimes you may be paid too much Housing Benefit or receive a bigger discount through your Council Tax Support than you are entitled to – this is called an overpayment.
Sometimes an overpayment happens because we make a mistake, but many overpayments come about because someone does not tell us about a change in their circumstances straight away. View your Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support details online.
It is important that you tell us about any changes in your circumstances which might affect your Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support.
Each time your benefits are worked out we send you a letter telling you the information that we have used. You are responsible for making sure that the information is correct. The best way to do this is to check the letter carefully. If you notice a mistake or if anything is wrong, you must tell us immediately.
Paying back money you have been overpaid
We can ask you to pay back most overpayments, but if the overpayment was due to a mistake made by us, the Department for Work and Pensions, or HM Revenue and Customs, we cannot ask you to pay it back if:
- You or the person acting on your behalf did not cause or contribute to the mistake
- It is unreasonable to expect you to have known that you were being overpaid at the time you received your payment or award letter
Before we decide whether or not to ask you to repay benefit we look at:
- The cause of the overpayment
- Whether you were in any way responsible for the overpayment
- Whether it is reasonable to expect you to have known that you were being overpaid
Even if the overpayment was not your fault, you may still be required to repay it, but only if we could reasonably expect you to know that you were being overpaid.
If we decide to ask for you to pay the money back there are several ways we can do it.
We can recover:
- By reducing your ongoing Housing Benefit until the overpayment is repaid (you will need to pay extra rent to your landlord or to your rent account to make up the shortfall in your benefit) - the weekly amount of the reduction is set by the government
- By reducing the amount paid to your landlord or agent (you will need to pay extra rent to your landlord or to your rent account to make up the shortfall in your benefit) - the weekly amount of the reduction is set by the government
- If you no longer qualify for Housing Benefit, we will send you an invoice and you can make an arrangement to repay the debt in full or in instalments
- By recovery from a deceased person's estate
- By deduction from certain Social Security benefits
If the overpayment is for Council Tax Support, we will add the amount of the excess discount to your Council Tax account and send you a new bill.
We can recover the overpayment from:
- You (and in some circumstances your partner)
- Someone acting on your behalf
- The person that the benefit was paid to (such as your landlord or their agent)
What if I cannot pay the money back?
Contact us if you are having difficulties paying back a Housing Benefit overpayment.
We can arrange :
- To recover the debt over a longer period of time by reducing the weekly amount that we take from your ongoing benefit
- A payment plan for your invoice
Appeal against an overpayment decision
You can appeal against an overpayment decision. Find out how to make an appeal.