Paying back overpayments
What is an overpayment?
An overpayment is caused when you have been paid more Housing Benefit than you are entitled to. We can recover the overpayment from:
- The tenant
- The person the payments were made to
- An appointee (if there is one)
- Any other person who contributed to the debt
We can recover almost all overpayments unless the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have made a mistake. There is also an exception if you could not be expected to know there had been an overpayment.
Overpayments usually happen when you do not tell us about a change in your circumstances as soon as it happens. Changes we need to be told about are:
- An increase in your wages or any other income
- If someone moves in to or out of your home
- If you change address
To help us get your benefit right tell us about any change in your circumstances straight away.
You are liable for letting us know of any changes in your circumstances.
A fraudulent overpayment may occur when a person has:
- Deliberately given a false statement or document
- Deliberately failed to report a change of circumstances with the intention of obtaining or retaining benefit
Recovering your overpayment
We have a duty to recover overpayments. When recovering, we will consider the method of recovery and whom we should recover the overpayment from.
We can recover the overpayment from:
- The person who made the claim and, in some circumstances, their partner
- Someone acting on behalf of the applicant, i.e. an appointee or someone with power of attorney
- The person who has been paid the benefit, i.e. a landlord or agent
If you have been overpaid we will write to you with details of:
- The reason for the overpayment and how we worked it out
- Whether we will recover the overpayment and how
- The amount of the overpayment
- What period the overpayment relates to
- What to do if you do not agree with the overpayment
An invoice will be sent if a Housing Benefit overpayment has occurred. A Council Tax bill will be sent if Council Tax Support has been overpaid.
How can I pay the money back?
- Deductions from your current Housing Benefit award
- Deductions from other benefits, i.e. State Retirement Pension, Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance or Universal Credit
- An arrangement to make a weekly/monthly payments to the council
- Sending you an invoice for repayment of the money
If you are unhappy with our decision you can ask us to look at it again or make an appeal. If you wish to do this, you must write to us within 1 month of the date of our decision letter.
If you are in financial hardship you may be able to repay the overpayment at a reduced amount. If you wish to do this please complete an income and expenditure form.
Visit our online payments page to make a payment online.
You can pay via our 24 hours a day automated telephone service on 0345 155 0028.
Our manned payment telephone line is 01772 906610 (open 9am - 4pm Monday to Friday).
Please quote the invoice number, together with the council's bank account details.
- Name: Preston City Council
- Number: 13162739
- Sort Code: 16-28-33
- Branch: The Royal Bank of Scotland PLC
Please note - Housing Benefit Overpayments can only be repaid by standing order.
You will need to set this up on your bank account. You can do this online or by calling into your bank for a Standing Order to be set up and processed. Please note that we cannot set up a direct debit arrangement for Housing Benefit Overpayments.
Post office payments
Payment can be made at any Post Office. Please keep your receipt as proof of payment.
PayPoint outlets accept cash and debit card overpayments. To find your nearest PayPoint visit PayPoint - Store Locator. Please take your invoice which has your bar code on it and keep your receipt as proof of payment.
Cheques and postal orders should be payable to Preston City Council. Please include your invoice number and send to:
- Revenues Services, PO Box 30, Town Hall, Lancaster Road, Preston, PR1 2GD
What will happen if I fail to repay an overpayment?
Failure to repay an overpayment may result in further action being taken by using one of the following methods.
- Recovery from your Department for Works and Pension benefits
- Recovery via Direct Earnings Attachment, if in employment. We will ask your employer to deduct your debt from your net earnings.
- Recovery from another local authority on our behalf if you have moved to another area and receiving housing benefit
- Recovery via one of our Debt Collectors
- Relevant recovery method via the County Court. This will incur additional court costs that will need to be paid by you. These costs will be added to the outstanding balance
Please note: We can decide a landlord is not a "fit and proper person" under benefit regulations. This decision can be made if a landlord fails to repay overpayments that are recoverable to them. This also means we can refuse to make direct benefit payments to that landlord.
The Government and The Money Advice Service has set up a new on-line tool. This tool is aimed at helping people with their budgets and managing their debt.
Or, for more advice, please contact the welfare benefits advice service.
What if I don't agree with your decision?
You can ask for a decision to recover an overpayment to be looked at again. This must be in writing, within one calendar month of the date the overpayment letter was sent to you. You can find further guidance notes on the appeals page.
Invoices payable by landlords
A landlord can request a revision when:
- An invoice for payment has been issued to them
- A deduction is being made from the benefit they receive for one of their tenants where the landlord personally owes the overpayment
They are notified in writing of a decision to recover it from them. Any request for a revision or appeal should be made within one calendar month from the date of the notification.