The amount of benefit you get to help you pay your rent and/or council tax depends on the information you provide when you make your claim.
If your personal circumstances change, then so may your entitlement, and if you don't tell us about these changes straight away, we may pay you too much benefit. This is called an over-payment.
If, because you've failed to tell us about changes, we've over-paid your benefit entitlement, you'll have to pay us back the full amount.
- We can recover the over-payment from the person who made the claim or their partner.
- We may also recover the over-payment from the person who received the payments (landlord or agent), or from anyone who caused the over-payment.
So don't delay tell us about changes in your circumstances and avoid being over-paid.
How to repay an over-payment
- If you're still entitled to benefit we can reduce your weekly benefit by an agreed amount.
- If you've just started work, you may be able to get up to four weeks additional benefit, known as extended payments.
- If you're no longer entitled to benefit, you can pay us back by agreed instalments.
- You may be able to reduce or off-set the over-payment if you have any benefit due or uncashed benefit cheques (arrears due).
- If you're a council tenant and your rent account is in credit, you can ask that some or all of your over-payment be sent to your rent account
- We can do a calculation to see if there would be a reduction in the original over-payment (underlying entitlement). You must provide proof of your income, capital and full household details.
Contact our Benefits team on 01223 457762 as soon as possible to discuss your re-payment options.
- Use our free online budget planner to help you manage your finances. It should only take a matter of minutes to complete if you have all your financial information to hand.
If you don't or can't pay
Housing benefit over-payments are a civil debt for which we can sue in the County or High Court. If a court order is made for the repayment, your credit rating may be affected for up to six years.
If no payment is made, the county court bailiff can be empowered to recover the debt, which may include the removal and sale of personal articles.
We can also apply for bank accounts to be frozen, an Attachment of Earnings deduction via your employer or even prevent the sale of property.
All actions in the courts incur charges which will be added on to the original debt.
We are committed to recovering outstanding debts, but not at levels that would cause an individual hardship. Please contact us for help and advice on any aspect of your over-payment.
All over-payments are 'recoverable' (must be paid back)
The only exception is if an official error occurs and is combined with a situation where the claimant or person to whom the payment was made (including landlord/agents) could not have known at the time of payment that there was no entitlement to that rate of benefit.
Official errors can include mistakes made by us, Job Centre Plus, or The Pension Service.
CAB - Money Advice
Advisors from CAB provide money advice at our customer service centre on a Wednesday morning, contact us if you would like to make an appointment.