Housing Benefit overpayments
If you get Housing Benefit that you are not entitled to, it is called an overpayment.
The most common reasons for an overpayment are:
- We have wrong or incomplete information about you
- We haven’t been told about a change in your circumstances
To make sure you do not get paid too much Housing Benefit, it is really important that you let us know about changes in your circumstances as soon as they happen.
Find out about how you can report a change in circumstance.
How will I know if I have an overpayment?
We will get in contact with you as soon as possible, either by phone or by letter.
We will let you know the full details of the overpayment, including:
- What caused the overpayment
- The time period and amount of overpayment
- How we plan to recover the overpayment
- What to do if you disagree with the overpayment
How will the Council collect the overpaid benefit?
If you are still receiving Housing Benefit, we will make weekly deductions from your ongoing entitlement until you have repaid the amount owed in full.
If you are no longer receiving Housing Benefit, we will send you an invoice.
What if I can't afford to repay the overpayment?
If you are finding it difficult to pay your rent while we recover your overpayment, we might be able to reduce the amount we take each week. Meaning you will pay the overpayment back over a longer period of time.
Complete the Income and Expenditure form online.
You will need to know your income and your regular outgoings.
What if I can't afford to repay the overpayment invoice?
If you are unable to repay the invoice all at once, then an agreement can be made to spread the cost over a period of time.
Contact us to set up a repayment plan.
We will contact you to confirm or discuss the plan and set up a direct debit.
What will happen if I don't repay the overpayment or set up a plan?
We will send you reminders to pay and will also try and contact you by phone to give you the chance to repay the invoice or set up a payment plan.
If you do not respond, recovery action will start.
Recovery action may include:
- Direct Earning Attachments (DEA) – if you are employed, we will ask your employer to take the money to recover the debt directly from your wages.
- Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) – if you receive state benefits such as Universal Credit, we will ask the DWP to deduct money from these to repay the overpayment.
- Collection by other Councils – if you have moved out of South Somerset and getting Housing Benefit from another Council, we will ask this Council to take money from your entitlement to recover the overpayment.
What if the overpayment isn't my fault?
If an overpayment was caused by our mistake, and you couldn't have realised that you were getting too much Housing Benefit, then we would not ask you to repay this.
However, if it would have been easy for you to have known you were getting too much, for example by receiving a payment twice for the same week or having a pay rise and not getting less Housing Benefit, then you would be expected to repay the overpayment.
I don't understand why I have an overpayment
You can ask us for more details, an explanation of the overpayment and the reasons behind our decision by completing our online form.