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Direct earnings attachment

We can recover housing benefit overpayments by deductions from earnings without applying for a court order. We do this through a Direct Earnings Attachment (DEA).

DEAs allow us to recover these debts from employed people if they:

  • refuse to repay
  • can’t agree an acceptable repayment plan
  • default on a voluntary repayment arrangement

Information for employers

As an employer, you have a legal obligation to:

  • implement a Direct Earnings Attachment when we ask you to make deductions from the employee’s net earnings
  • pay us the amounts deducted by the 19th of the month following the month of the deduction
  • keep a record of each deduction taken and the employee from whose earnings it was made
  • continue to operate the DEA until Somerset West and Taunton Council tells you to stop
  • tell us if your employee leaves your employment
  • make sure you take the right amount from your employee’s earnings each week or month and pay it to us

If you fail to comply with your duties you could be subject, on conviction, to a fine of up to £1,000.

We will send you a notice asking you to apply a DEA to your employee’s earnings. This will include all the information you need to set up the DEA. You must tell us if:

  • we ask you to operate a DEA for someone who does not work for you
  • an employee for whom you are operating a DEA leaves your employment
  • you are a micro business

You should also let us know if your business stops trading.

You must write to your employee to tell them:

  • the amount of the deduction taken, including any sum taken for administrative costs
  • how that deduction was worked out

You must do this (and record it) no later than the payday after the one on which you take the DEA deduction.