Benefits and help

Overpaid benefit

An overpayment is any amount of benefit that has been paid to you but you were not entitled to receive.

If your benefit is reduced and we have already paid you at the higher amount, there will be an overpayment.

Overpayments happen for various reasons. Here are some examples.

  • you may have given us wrong information.

  • you may not have told us something that we needed to know about.

  • we may have made a mistake

  • you may not have told us about a change in time to adjust your benefit

Paying back an overpayment 

We can usually ask you to pay back what we have overpaid, even if it was not your fault that you were being overpaid.

We will write to tell you how much you have been overpaid and the action we will take. This is called the decision notification letter. 

If you are struggling to pay back an overpayment and would like us to reconsider the amount of your regular payments, contact us.

We can get the money back in the following ways

  • from installments of your housing benefit

  • from your rent account, if you are a council tenant

  • by using other money we owe you

  • by sending you a bill

  • from your landlord

  • we can ask the Department for Works and Pensions to take money out of other benefits you receive

  • we can ask another council to take money out of any housing benefit they are paying you

Underlying entitlement

If you are overpaid housing benefit, we can sometimes reduce the overpayment if you provide us with evidence of all your income, savings and investments for the period of the overpayment.

We will calculate the amount of benefit that you would have been entitled to if we had known your correct circumstances at the time. We will use this amount to reduce the total amount of the overpaid benefit.

I have been overpaid because you have amended my earnings but I didn’t provide you with any payslips

We receive information directly from Her Majesties Revenues and Customs (HMRC) telling us about your earnings. This information is provided directly to HMRC by your employer.

We use this information to make sure that your entitlement to Housing Benefit is correct.

Where we find that there has been a change in your earnings that we were not notified about or did not receive information about we will reassess your entitlement to benefit – this may mean that we have overpaid you some benefit for a past period where we have been paying you entitlement based on earnings that are lower than the earnings you received.

If you think we have assessed your earnings incorrectly you will need to send us evidence of your payslips showing the amount of earnings you actually received and ask us to look again at the decision.

How to disagree with our decision

If you disagree with our decision you should contact us within one month of the date on the letter. Visit our disagreeing with our decision page for more information.

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