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Overpayments of benefit can occur both in housing benefit and council tax reduction. An overpayment is when we pay you an amount that you were not entitled to receive. You will usually be asked to pay this back.

Overpayments can occur because of many different factors. A typical reason is when the claimant's income turns out to have been higher for a past period. This would mean that they were entitled to a reduced level of benefit.

When an overpayment is discovered

The following facts are established:

  • The period of the overpayment;
  • The amount of the overpayment;
  • The cause of the overpayment.

The following decisions are then made:

  • Whether the overpayment is classed as recoverable;
  • Whether to recover the overpayment;
  • From whom the overpayment should be recovered.

The benefit claimant will then receive a letter from the council with details of the overpayment. If benefit was being paid to the claimant's landlord, they will also receive a notification.

Overpayments made to landlords

Landlords who receive an overpayment of housing benefit for their tenant will usually be asked to repay the money. However, the tenant will be asked to repay if there is a good reason why they should. 

An example could be where a tenant starts work without advising the council and the landlord could not have been expected to know that they were being overpaid. Each overpayment is considered on its own merits.

How an overpayment is repaid

We usually take a weekly amount back from the claimant’s housing benefit, if they are still entitled to it.

If this is not the case, an invoice will be sent. Details of how to repay an invoice are shown on the invoice. You can also make an online payment now. Either way, the claimant should contact the council if they are having difficulty repaying the overpayment.

Please complete the housing benefit overpayment repayment proposal form if you are unable to repay the full amount.

Overpayments of council tax reduction are transferred to the claimant's council tax account and included in future instalments.

We have drawn up a policy to deal with the administration and recovery of overpayments. See the council's corporate debt recovery policy [doc] 1089KB.