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Overpayments

An overpayment is an amount of housing benefit/council tax support that has been paid but for which there is no entitlement under Government regulations/Torridge District Council Policy. This applies to housing benefit and council tax support, although the methods of recovery may differ between the two.

This section includes details of how overpayments arise and how they may be recovered.

An overpayment normally occurs when you do not notify us of a change in your or your partner's circumstances and a recalculation of your entitlement means that you have been paid too much housing benefit/council tax support, such as:

  • Your income or capital has increased e.g. tax credits; wages; state benefits
  • Somebody may have moved into your home
  • You may have moved address
  • You may have started work or changed jobs.

The benefits team must be informed, in writing, of any such changes.  This should be done immediately however, you do have one calendar month from the date of your change in circumstance to provide us with information.  However, the earlier you get the information / evidence in to us, the sooner your benefit/support will be corrected.

A fraudulent overpayment may occur when a person has deliberately provided a false statement or document, or has deliberately failed to report a change of circumstances with the intention of obtaining, or retaining, benefit.

If an overpayment occurs we will write to you, giving full details of the overpayment.

This letter will include:

  • The cause of the overpayment
  • The dates and the amount of the overpayment
  • Who recovery of the overpayment will be sought from

What you can do if you disagree with the overpayment

IMPORTANT NOTES

A landlord can only request a review where recovery is being sought from him personally; that is, where an invoice for payment has been issued to him, or a deduction is being made from the benefit he receives for one of his tenants in order to recover an overpayment owed by the landlord.

If a landlord habitually fails to repay overpayments that are recoverable from him, the Council can decide that the landlord is not a 'fit and proper person' under the Housing Benefit Regulations, and can refuse to make direct benefit payments to that landlord.

Overpaid Council tax support will be debited back on to your council tax account, which will increase the amount you have to pay.

If you require any further information please contact the benefits team.

 

How are housing benefit overpayments recovered?

Overpayment of housing benefit can be recovered by using one of several methods:

  • A one-off payment by you or your landlord
  • Weekly deductions from your ongoing benefit
  • A one-off deduction from a lump sum payment of benefit arrears
  • If you are not receiving housing benefit the overpayment may be recovered from other benefits.
  • An arrangement may be made to repay the debt.

The method of repayment will depend on your individual circumstances.

Recovery of an overpayment will not prejudice any criminal proceedings that may be taken by the Council  in respect of fraudulent overpayments.

 

Is there a right of appeal?

For further information on reviews and the Appeals process see 'Appeals'.

The claimant can ask for a review of a decision to calculate an overpayment.  Any such request should be made in writing, within one month of the decision notice.

A landlord can request a review where recovery is being sought from him personally; that is, where an invoice for payment has been issued to him or a deduction is being made from the benefit he receives for one of his tenants in order to recover an overpayment owed by the landlord in respect of another tenant.

Where the overpayment is owed by the landlord personally, he will be notified in writing of a decision to recover from him. Any request for a review should be made within one month of the decision notice.

A landlord can write to the Council at any time requesting a written statement of reasons for the recovery of an overpayment from him.

 

What will happen if the overpayment is not repaid?

Where an invoice addressed to a landlord remains unpaid, or an agreed arrangement to repay the debt over time is not being maintained, the Council may take action in the County Court

 

Will any overpayment have to be paid back?

The rules concerning the administration of housing benefit overpayments are contained in the housing benefit regulations and other subsequent legislation.

The Council has a duty to implement these legal provisions, and has a duty to recover overpayments from the tenants and landlords.

The Council may also decide to take criminal proceedings in respect of fraudulent overpayments.

The majority of overpayments have to be paid back.  All overpayments are considered as to whether recoverable and if they are, from whom - yourself or your landlord.  

They may be recovered from your landlord if benefit is paid direct to your landlord and it was reasonable for the landlord to have known that the overpayment was occurring, e.g. you have moved out and written notice was given to the landlord. 

Overpayments that are caused by a mistake made by us or the Department for Work and Pensions may not be recovered unless you could reasonably have been expected to realise that the overpayment was occurring. Each case is looked at individually.

 

 

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