Why do overpayments happen?
If your benefit goes down and we've already paid you the higher amount there will be an overpayment. The most common reasons are:
the time it takes between a change happening, you telling us and us dealing with it
you may have given us wrong information
you may not have told us something we needed to know
you may have been slow to tell us about a change
we may have been slow to deal with something you told us
we may have made a mistake
In the case of council tax benefit/support, we pay benefit for a whole year (April to March) at the start of the year. It's quite likely that something will change during the year and we find that we've paid too much, or too little, for the rest of the year.
How can I pay the money back?
- Council tax account - for council tax benefit/support, we usually take the overpaid benefit back out of your account. You will get a new council tax bill with more to pay.
- Housing benefit instalments - for housing benefit, if you're still on benefit we can deduct money from your weekly benefit to recover the overpayment. There are legal limits to how much we can take each week.
- Using other money we owe you - if we owe you benefit to pay for some other period, we can use the money to reduce your overpayment.
We may send you a bill (we call it an invoice). Please make arrangements to pay it. If you can't pay all at once, we can arrange instalments, and there are several ways you can pay. If we don't hear from you or you don't make payments when they are due, we will take further action to get the money back from you. This could include:
- using a collection agency who may call at your home;
- registering the debt with the county court and asking them to force you to pay it back. This is the same as having a court order against you so it will affect your credit rating. This could make it difficult for you to get a loan or credit in the future;
- if you owe us a large amount of money we may also take steps to make you bankrupt.