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If we pay you too much Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support, this is called an overpayment. This usually happens if you have a change in your circumstances.

How to stop overpayments happening

To stop overpayments before they happen, you need to tell us of any change that will affect your benefit entitlement as soon as you can.

Read our change in circumstances page for information on the changes you need to report and how to report them 

When overpayments occur

How we work out the amount of recoverable overpayment

To work out the amount of money that we need to recover, we take away the amount of benefit you should have been paid from the total amount you received.

We will write to you if we need information to work out the benefit you should have been paid.

You have one month from the date of our letter to provide the information.

If you do not provide the information, we will recover the total amount of benefit paid for the overpayment period.


Recovering the overpayment

We can recover all overpayments, except certain Housing Benefit cases due to official error.

An official error overpayment can only be recovered if you or someone acting on your behalf could reasonably have been expected to realise that an overpayment was taking place at the time of payment or upon receipt of any notification relating to the payment.


Repaying the overpayment

If you are still receiving Housing Benefit, recovery repayments will be made from your ongoing benefit entitlement until the full amount is recovered.

If the repayment amount causes you hardship, you can ask for it to be reduced but you will have to provide details of your income and expenses before we agree to the reduced amount.

If you are no longer entitled to Housing Benefit we may recover the overpayment using the following methods:

  • issue an invoice for the overpayment
  • request the DWP to make automatic deductions from your social security benefit to recover the overpayment
  • recover an amount from your earnings under a Direct Earnings Attachment
  • collection by other local authority - if you have moved out of the area and are claiming Housing Benefit at your new home, we can ask another local authority to reduce your Housing Benefit every week to recover the overpayment
  • refer the debt to the council's Enforcement Agents for them to enforce recover
  • register the debt with the County Court

We will add any Council Tax Support overpayments to your Council Tax account and send you a revised bill.


Direct Earning Attachment

How does it work?

We are responsible for recovering money owed to us in respect of debts arising under the Social Security Administration Act 1992.

From April 2013, Local Authorities have been given the power to recover overpaid Housing Benefit by deductions from earnings without the need to apply for a court order. This is done by using a Direct Earnings Attachment (DEA).

We can use a DEA to ask your employer to make deductions from your salary to recover overpaid Housing Benefit. 


Information for employers

Our Employers Guide provides advice on what an employer needs to do if they are asked to implement a Direct Earnings Attachment including:

  • how to operate a Direct Earnings Attachment
  • how to work out how much should be deducted from the employee's earnings
  • how and when to make payments to us of the amount deducted
  • an employer's responsibility under the law 

Further help

If you need further help or advice contact us.

Contact us about Housing Benefits and Council Tax Support