Overpayment of benefit

An overpayment of a benefit happens if we pay you a benefit to which you were not entitled.

This can happen if there's been a change in your circumstances which means you're entitled to less benefit than we've paid you, or if new information about your circumstances is identified that reduces entitlement. Landlords can also be overpaid if they're paid benefit after a tenant leaves their property.

Examples of changes that could result in overpayment include:

  • an increase in your income or the income of other adults who live with you
  • an increase in capital
  • someone moving into or out of your home

It's important that you tell us about changes of circumstances straight away.

If you've overpaid housing benefits, we'll write to you to tell you how your entitlement has changed and the date the award has changed from.

Repaying the overpayment

If we're asking you to repay the overpayment, we'll tell you this in the decision letter we send you and will include advice about how you should pay.

Housing benefit recovery may be by:

  • weekly deductions from any continuing entitlement to benefit. We may deduct up to £11.10 each week from your ongoing benefit. If you're working, it may be more than this
  • payment of an invoice, either in person, by telephone, or by using our online payment service.

If you don't repay your overpayment as arranged, we may take legal action against you or employ a recovery agent to pursue the debt.

Council tax benefits and council tax reduction recovery are through your council tax account. We'll add your overpayment back to your account and you'll be issued with an adjusted demand notice by our revenues team.

Help to repay your overpayment

If you're finding it difficult to repay the money you owe us, contact us as soon as possible on 01423 500600. We may be able to come to an alternative arrangement to help you repay.

We also offer a free, confidential budgeting and debt management service that could help you repay this and other debts. Please contact us for more information.

Also, see financial assistance - help and advice for other support available.

When we've made a decision about your benefit, we'll write to tell you what amount you're entitled to.

Request reconsideration

You can ask us to look at it again if you think we're wrong. You should contact us within one month of the date on your decision notice and send us any extra information or evidence that may support your case.

To begin the appeals process, complete our reconsideration request form or write to us separately. You may also seek independent advice from someone like the Citizens Advice Bureau, who may be able to help you with your appeal.

Reconsideration request form

If you do this, we'll look at our decision again. This is called reconsideration. We may then decide to:

  • change our decision - if we revise your claim, we'll write and tell you
  • uphold our decision - if we decide not to change our original decision, we'll write to you to explain why we believe the decision is correct

If you still disagree with our decision, you have the right to ask for this to be looked at by an independent tribunal. This is called an appeal.

Housing benefit appeals

You must make your appeal in writing to us; it's important you provide full details of the reason for your appeal. You should do this within one month of the date we send you the outcome of your reconsideration request.

We will then prepare the papers and submit your appeal to the independent tribunal service.

They will contact you to give you a date for a hearing, which you may wish to attend. A judge will make an independent decision about your claim and will notify you of this direct.

Council tax reduction appeals

You can find out more information on how to appeal on the appeals and reconsideration page

Enquiries form