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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 of housing benefit or council tax reduction that you were not entitled to receive and 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, which means 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 too will receive notification.

Overpayments made to landlords

If housing benefit has been overpaid to a landlord in respect of his tenant, the landlord will normally be asked to repay the money. However, if there is a good reason why the tenant should be asked to repay the money instead, the overpayment could be recovered from them. 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

The council will normally take a weekly amount back from the claimant's current housing benefit if they are still entitled. If this is not the case, an invoice will be sent. Details of how to repay an invoice are shown on the invoice, or if you wish to make a payment now you can do so using our online service. Either way, the claimant should contact the council if they are having difficulty repaying the overpayment.

If you are unable to pay the full amount of the housing benefit overpayment as shown on the notice but wish to propose a payment plan to clear the amount owed please complete the housing benefit overpayment repayment proposal form.

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 which can be found by reading the council's corporate debt recovery policy [doc] 1089KB