Information about housing benefit overpayments
An overpayment is where you have been paid more housing benefit than you are entitled to.
Overpayments of benefit usually happen when you do not tell the council of changes in your circumstances as soon as they happen, for example:
- An increase in your wages or any other income
- If someone moves in to your home
- If you move out of your home
It is your duty to tell us of changes in your circumstances promptly to avoid having to repay any monies.
Where an overpayment arises, we will take action to recover the money.
In some circumstances, you may be entitled to a reduced amount of benefit for the same period as the overpayment. We may contact you if we think this applies to you to ask you to provide information about your income and circumstances for the period of the overpayment. If you are asked to provide these details, you must do so promptly as it could reduce your overpayment.
This guide explains what your responsibilities are as an employer, if we ask you to implement a Direct Earnings Attachment (DEA).
We will write to you with full details, for example:
- The reason for the overpayment
- The amount of the overpayment
- What period the overpayment relates to
- Whether the overpayment will be recovered, and if so, how
- What to do if you disagree with the overpayment
We will also send you an invoice for repayment of the overpayment.
Even if the overpayment was not your fault, you may still have to pay it back. This would happen where you continue to receive and accept payments of benefit knowing that either the amount is too much or you should not be receiving any at all.
Yes, if you are unhappy with our decision you can ask for the decision to be reconsidered or you can appeal against it.
- For more information see disputes and appeals
No, overpayments can be recovered gradually by:
- Reducing your current housing benefit entitlement
- Reducing your current social security benefits, eg state retirement pension, income support, job seekers allowance
- Making an arrangement to make weekly/monthly payments to the council
If your landlord received housing benefit payments on your behalf, we may ask him/her to repay the overpayment.
Ongoing recovery deduction amounts taking into account 50% of the earnings disregards are as follows:
£11.25+£2.50 = £13.75
|£18.75+£2.50 = £21.25|
|L.P.||£11.25+ £12.50 = £23.75||£18.75+£12.50 = £31.25|
|Couple||£11.25+£5 = £16.25||£18.75+£5 = £23.75|
|Disability||£11.25+£10 = £21.25||£18.75+£10 = £28.75|
The council may take action to recover the overpayment through the courts.
The cost of the court action will be added to your overpayment.
You can contact the following:
- Contact us and ask for the overpayments team to arrange to repay the overpayment over a long period of time or
- Citizens Advice for independent advice on debt recovery proceedings or help with managing debt.
- You can also make use of a new service offered by the government aimed at helping people with their budgets and managing their debt. This can be found on the money advice service website.
- By credit/debit card online
- By credit/debit card via our automated telephone line – call 0845 6017297 and select option 5. You must have your invoice number
- By post (except for cash) to the address shown at the end of this page. Cheques or postal orders should be made payable to Lancaster City Council, crossed A/C PAYEE ONLY and the invoice number written on the back of the cheque. Post-dated cheques will not be accepted
- At any post office (free of charge) by taking your invoice/letter together with your payment. You can pay by cash, debit card or cheque. Cheques should be made payable to Post Office Ltd, crossed A/C PAYEE ONLY and the invoice number written on the back of the cheque.
- For details of other payment methods by banks please contact us and ask for the overpayments team.
If you need more information regarding housing benefit overpayments you can contact us or call in person to the Customer Services Centre at Lancaster or Morecambe town halls.
You must tell us about any changes in your circumstances and in the circumstances of anyone who lives in your household, within one calendar month of the change.
It is an offence to knowingly or dishonestly fail to notify the council promptly of a change in circumstances that could affect housing benefit entitlement or the amount of benefit payable.
Last updated: 31 March 2020