What are overpayments?
If I am overpaid will I have to pay the money all at once?
Who can the Council recover the overpayment from?
How will the Council recover the overpayment?
What is underlying entitlement?
Can I appeal against an overpayment?
What if the overpayment wasn’t my fault?
What if I can’t pay the money back?
What should I do if I am having difficulties in paying Council Tax Instalments because Council Tax Support overpayment has been added to it?
An overpayment is where you have been paid more Housing Benefit or been given more Council Tax Support than you are entitled to. A change in your circumstances may reduce your benefit or support entitlement from a date in the past. This could be for a number of reasons, for example:
- An increase in your income
- Someone moving in with you
- You move out of the property
If an overpayment arises, the local authority is duty bound to recover the money.
Not necessarily. Housing Benefit overpayments can be recovered directly from your ongoing entitlement to benefit. Presently the overpayment recovery rate for 2017/2018 is £11.10 per week. If the overpayment has resulted from fraud the rate is £18.50 per week.
You can of course pay more if you wish to pay the overpayment back more quickly - please contact the Benefit Section to make arrangements on 01536 464150 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get back to you.
If you have an overpayment of Council Tax Support an increase will be made on your Council Tax bill, you will need to make an arrangement if you would like to pay in instalments. You will receive a new Council Tax Bill once the overpayment has been calculated.
If you no longer qualify for Housing Benefit an invoice will be sent to you and you can make an arrangement with the Council’s Debt Recovery department to repay the debt in instalments.
The Council can recover the overpayment from:
- The claimant (and in some circumstances their partner);
- Someone acting on behalf of the claimant;
- The person to whom it was paid (including a landlord or their agent).
The Council can use several methods to recover the overpayment and these are:-
- Deduction from a claimant’s ongoing Housing Benefit at a set amount each week. You will need to pay (extra) rent to your landlord/rent account to make up the resultant shortfall in benefit;
- Reducing amounts paid to a landlord or agent. You will need to pay (extra) rent to your landlord to make up the shortfall in benefit;
- Deductions from Housing Benefit owed to a claimant for a past period (payment in arrears);
- Deduction from certain Social Security Benefits;
- Issuing an Invoice;
- Recovery from a deceased persons estate;
- If the overpayment is for Council Tax Support then the Council will add the amount of the overpayment to the Council Tax account and a new bill will be issued.
Please do not ignore our letters as the debt will not go away. If we do have to take further action to recover the money the amount you owe will increase.
If you have been overpaid Housing Benefit/Council Tax Support there are some circumstances in which this could be reduced by “underlying entitlement”.
This is not an award of benefit or support, but if have been notified that you have been overpaid beneift, a further calculation can be made to determine what you would have been entitled to had your benefit or support been assessed on the correct information.
In other words, the amount you will have to pay back is reduced because the actual overpayment is the difference between the amount of benefit/support you actually received less any amount that on review it is decided you are entitled to based on your new circumstances.
For example, if you received an increase in your income, but forgot to tell us.
When we re-assess your claim, we will include the increased income from the date that it changed, and you are notified how much benefit you have been overpaid.
In this example you have already had your underlying entitlement calculated, because we know what your circumstances were for this period and are therefore able to calculate the underlying entitlement automatically.
However there are times when we don’t know what your circumstances were. We will therefore contact you asking you to provide details of your “income” or other change for the period concerned in order that we may calculate the “underlying entitlement” and possibly reduce your overpayment.
Please remember if you receive such a request for information relating to a previous period it is in your interest to provide this information – IT COULD REDUCE YOUR OVERPAYMENT.
Yes, you have one calendar month from the date you are notified about the overpayment in which to make an appeal. Recovery of the overpayment will not start until this appeal has ended.
Even if the overpayment wasn’t your fault you may still be required to repay it, but only if the Council could reasonably expect you to know that you were being overpaid.
If you let us know that you are having difficulties making repayments, we can arrange to recover the debt over a longer period of time.
If you are having difficulty in paying your Council Tax instalments you should contact the Council immediately.
If the council is recoverying an overpayment from your ongoing Housing Benefit and this action is causing hardship, please complete the Overpayment Recovery Financial statement form below. We may be able to reduce the amount of benefit we are recovering.