Overpayment of Housing Benefit
Updated: 24 Feb 2017
Overpayments of Housing Benefit
The following advice is a summary of the law in relation to Overpayments of Housing Benefit.
If you require more detailed information about your own circumstances regarding an overpayment, please call us on 03448 920 902 and we will be happy to discuss the details of your case.
What is an overpayment?
An overpayment is any amount of Housing Benefit that has been paid to you that you should not have received. An overpayment can occur for example where we have paid Housing Benefit and were not aware that your circumstances had changed or perhaps where we were not in possession of the full facts of your case when payments were first made to you.
Will I have to repay an overpayment?
The law states that most overpayments have to be repaid. The exception would be where the overpayment occurs because of an error made by the Housing Executive.
Please note however that if an overpayment occurs because of an error on our part and we are satisfied that you could reasonably have known that you were being overpaid, that overpayment may still be recovered from you.
My Housing Benefit was paid to my landlord so why should I have to repay an overpayment?
You are the person that makes the claim for Housing Benefit. It is always your responsibility to notify the Housing Executive of any changes in your circumstances. This is not affected by the fact that payments are being made to a landlord.
The law states that if the information that resulted in the overpayment was known only to you and was not known to the landlord (for example an increase in your wages, benefit changes, changes in household members etc.) then we must seek recovery of that overpayment from you, even where the payments of Housing Benefit were being made to your landlord.
How will I know if I have been overpaid?
We will notify you in writing if you are overpaid Housing Benefit. We will tell you how the overpayment occurred, advise you of the amount and confirm the period to which it relates. We will also tell you what you can do if you disagree with the reason for the overpayment, the amount involved, the period it relates to or the fact that it should be recovered.
How will I repay an overpayment?
(a) Where Housing Benefit is still in payment
If you continue to receive Housing Benefit (after the overpayment decision was made) we will recover the overpayment by deductions from your ongoing Housing Benefit award. The amount deducted will be a standard amount every week, but this may be increased if the overpayment arose as a result of fraud.
The standard amount of deduction is currently £11.10 per week from 6th April 2015. For overpayments caused by fraud, the standard amount of deduction is £18.50 per week from 6th April 2015
If we make the standard deduction from your ongoing Housing Benefit award (to clear your overpayment) and this is causing financial hardship, you can ask us to reduce the standard amount. Where such a request is received, we will look at the individual circumstances of your case.
(b) Housing Benefit no longer in payment
If you are no longer receiving Housing Benefit then you should repay the full amount immediately.
If you are unable to do so you must make arrangements to repay by instalments. Repayments can be made in cash or by cheque and we will accept payment of instalments by Direct Debit.
•You can also repay overpayments online
In most cases where an overpayment occurs and you are no longer receiving awards of Housing Benefit an invoice detailing the overpayment will be issued to you followed by an ALLPAY repayment card. This card allows you to make payments at your local Paypoint outlet to clear the overpayment.
•Find your nearest Paypoint outlet
If you fail to repay an overpayment and do not enter into, or keep to, an arrangement to repay by instalments, then compulsory recovery action may be taken. This can be through the courts or by direct deduction from certain social security benefits which you may be receiving, or by referring to a private sector recovery agent
What will happen if I start to receive Housing Benefit again?
If you have made arrangements with us to repay an overpayment and you become entitled to Housing Benefit again, we will automatically deduct a set amount from the new award of Housing Benefit towards your overpayment. The repayment arrangements that you made with us will then end.
If deductions are made from my Housing Benefit will my rent account go into arrears?
Arrears on your rent account will occur if you do not pay your landlord the amount of the deduction that is being made from your Housing Benefit award to reduce your overpayment.
To prevent arrears building up you must pay your landlord the amount you are due to pay as stated on your latest housing benefit notification letter plus the amount we are deducting from your Housing Benefit award to reduce the overpayment.