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Housing benefit overpayments

Overpayments happen when we pay housing benefit you should not be getting.

This can happen if your situation has changed. Examples of changes that could result in overpayment include:

  • the amount of money coming into the household has gone up
  • someone moving into or out of your home
  • you have given us the wrong information
  • we have made a mistake or delayed changing your claim

It's important that you tell us about changes of circumstances straight away. If you’re not sure, tell us anyway.

How we can reduce your overpayment

If you did not tell us of a change affecting you and we overpay you, we can work out the amount of benefit you should have got. We will need to see proof of how much money you had coming in and any savings. We can then work out the amount you would have got during this period.

If you can’t give us proof, we will need to have the whole amount paid back.

Asking for the money back

We must first decide if the overpayment can be repaid. We will consider if it was:

  • your fault we overpaid you
  • not our fault
  • our fault, but you should have spotted the overpayment. For example, if your pay goes up you should expect your benefit to go down. If your benefit hasn't changed, something has gone wrong and you must let us know

We will not expect the money to be repaid if it's our fault and you could not have known we were paying you too much benefit. We will always write to you if you tell us about a change in your situation. You must contact us if you do not get a letter.

We will look at every overpayment case by case to decide if it’s right to get the money back. We will look at your age, any disability, or hardship you would suffer.

Making a repayment

We will usually look to the person we feel is most responsible. These include the:

  • person claiming the benefit (the claimant)
  • claimant’s partner if they were living with the claimant at the time the overpayment occurred
  • person who got the benefit
  • person who failed to tell us something that caused the overpayment

We will decide who to recover the overpaid benefit from and we will write to them with our decision. They can appeal against our decision.