Overpayment of benefit
An overpayment is where you have received too much benefit, maybe because your circumstances have changed. We will ask you to pay this back.
If you receive too much benefit, we will write to you, giving you details of the overpayment, and we will normally ask you to pay the money back. We will take into account your circumstances and who we paid your benefit to.
Paying back a housing benefit overpayment
The way you pay back a housing benefit overpayment depends on whether you are still receiving benefit and if you rent from a private landlord or housing association.
If you are still getting housing benefit
We will reduce your future housing benefit payments by a set amount each week until the balance is cleared.
The standard rate of overpayment recovery is £11.10 a week. A higher rate of £18.50 a week applies for overpayments caused by fraud.
On top of the standard weekly recovery amount, customers who work or get charitable payments, may have to pay a higher amount. If this is the case, we will notify you before we start making deductions.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) sets the standard weekly recovery rates and additional recovery amounts every April.
If you want to clear your overpayment more quickly, you can write to ask us to take a higher weekly amount.
If your housing benefit has ended
If we have paid you too much housing benefit once your claim has ended, we will send you an overpayment invoice for the amount you need to pay back.
If we paid your housing benefit directly to your landlord, and you have left the property, we may send the overpayment invoice directly to the landlord. If we paid your housing benefit to someone acting as your agent, we may send the agent the overpayment invoice.
In certain circumstances, we may send you the overpayment invoice even if we were paying your landlord.
Example of overpayment
George was claiming housing benefit and we made the payments directly to his landlord.
On 3 January, his partner started a new job and they had an increase in household income but he didn't tell our housing benefit team about this straight away. George continued to receive housing benefit based on the old household income until 31 January.
When we re-calculated George's benefit entitlement using the new amount of household income, George no longer qualified for the benefit. And as a result of this change, George had an overpayment of housing benefit from 3 January to 31 January of £100 (£25 a week for four weeks).
Even though we paid benefit to George's landlord, George's landlord could not have known about this change in George's circumstances and would not have known that this money was an overpayment.
In this case, we sent the overpayment invoice for £100 to George, as he was liable to pay back the benefit that was overpaid to his landlord.
Queries about an overpayment invoice
If you have any queries about an overpayment invoice you have received, either as a landlord or tenant, it is important that you contact us with your query as soon as possible. If you disagree with an overpayment invoice, see our web page on querying an overpayment.
If you fail to respond to an overpayment invoice, we may consider court action.
Council tax support overpayments
We calculate your council tax support each April for the year ahead based on your circumstances at that time.
If, during the year, your circumstances change, we may need to adjust your council tax support. This could result in an overpayment of council tax support.
If this happens, we will write to you with details of the overpayment and send you a revised council tax bill showing you the outstanding amount and how to pay it.
If you have questions about council tax support overpayments please contact us using the contact details on this page.
Fair collection and debt recovery
We have written a document to help explain how we are consistent when collecting the debts that are owed to us.
Our Fair collection and debt recovery policy [525kb] includes information about collections for repayment of benefit.