If you are paid Housing Benefit you should not have received, we will recover it.
An overpayment can happen for a number of reasons. This includes where:
If the overpayment happens because of a mistake we made we may not expect you to pay it back. However, if we think you could reasonably have known you were being overpaid, you may have to pay it back.
Telling you about overpayments
When we identify that an overpayment has occurred, we will write to you with the details of:
- how the overpayment happened;
- the amount overpaid;
- the period (dates) to which it relates;
- the person from whom it will be recovered; and
- if you have an outstanding overpayment from a previous decision the total overpayment outstanding
We will also tell you:
- what to do if you think the decision is incorrect; and
- the timescales involved when requesting a review of the decision
If the overpayment was discovered because of a fraud investigation conducted by the Department for Communities, you will be expected to pay this back. This will not affect any other action, including proceedings in a criminal court, which may be taken in your case.
Repaying an overpayment
When an overpayment is identified we will work with you to arrange for its repayment.
If you are still getting Housing Benefit:
- we will deduct an amount from your ongoing Housing Benefit award
- we will take a standard amount (currently) £11.10 per week
- if the overpayment is as a result of fraud we will take (currently) £18.50 per week
If the standard deduction from your Housing Benefit award is causing financial problems please tell us. We will look at the circumstances of your case and work with you to see if we can reduce the standard amount to an amount you can afford to pay but over a longer period of time.
If you no longer get Housing Benefit
- You should arrange to repay the full amount immediately
If making a one off payment is not possible call us to arrange payment by instalments. We are able to offer:
- Direct Debit
- AllPay Payment App*
- Call Assistance through the Housing Benefit Recovery Office
- AllPay automated 24/7 telephone service*
*You will need your Housing Benefit repayment card, which will be sent to you, to pay this way.
If Housing Benefit was paid to your landlord
It is your responsibility to tell us about changes in your circumstances to help avoid an overpayment happening.
The law clearly says:
"...if the information which resulted in the overpayment was known only to you and could not reasonably have been known by the landlord (for example an increase in wages, benefit changes, changes in household members etc), then we must seek recovery of that overpayment from you, even where the payments of Housing Benefit were being made to your landlord."
Failure to make a repayment
If you do not repay an overpayment and do not enter into, or keep to, an arrangement to repay by instalments, then we will take compulsory recovery action.
- contact your employer to start taking deductions from your wages;
- take you to court;
- arrange direct deductions from social security benefits which you may be getting; or
- refer your case to a private sector recovery agent.
If you receive Housing Benefit again
If you stopped getting Housing Benefit but you qualify to receive it again we will cancel any repayment arrangements you had with us and automatically deduct the amount from your new award of Housing Benefit. The amount taken from your housing benefit will be at the set rate.
To avoid an arrear on your rent account you must make sure that you pay your landlord any amount recovered from your housing benefit for an overpayment.
You may qualify for extra help with your housing costs. However, if you are repaying an overpayment you will not qualify for a discretionary housing payment to make up this difference.
The information in this section is for general advice only. We recommend that you contact your local Housing Benefit office if you have any queries.