Benefit Overpayments and Fraud
An overpayment is an amount of benefit which has been paid to you but to which there is no entitlement under the relevant rules. Overpayment of benefit can occur both in Housing Benefit and Local Council Tax Support.
Overpayments can occur due to many different factors. A typical reason is when your income increases for a past period which then reduces the level of Benefit awarded.
When an overpayment is found, the following information and decisions are made:
- The period of the overpayment.
- The amount of the overpayment.
- The cause of the overpayment.
- Whether the overpayment is classed as 'recoverable'.
- Whether to recover the overpayment.
- Decide from whom the overpayment should be recovered.
We will then write to you shortly afterwards providing you with more information. If we were making payments of Housing Benefit to your landlord when the overpayment occurred, we may also write to them.
Overpayments due to delayed benefit awards
An official error is a mistake made by us, or a person acting for us; including the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). It is not an official error if you or a person acting for you contributed to the mistake by not giving us information or by giving false or misleading information.
Overpayments paid to landlords
If we were paying Benefit to a landlord and then find out that there has been an overpayment, we may ask the landlord to pay the money back direct. However, if there is a good reason why we should ask you for the money instead, then we will do this. An example could be where you had started work and had not told us and your landlord could not have been expected to know that he was being overpaid. Each overpayment case is considered on its own merits.
Repaying an overpayment
We will normally take a weekly amount back from your current Housing Benefit if you are still entitled, this is normally at the level set by the Housing Benefit rules. Otherwise we will send you an invoice asking for you to repay the money. Either way, we can discuss repayment with you so that we do not ask you to pay too much each week.
Reducing the rate of overpayment recovery
If you are in receipt of on going Housing Benefit Entitlement and would like to request a reduction to the current rate of the recovery of the overpayment, you can request this by completing our online form.
If you are no longer entitled to Housing Benefit and would like to make a request to the Overpayment Section for a reduction to the amount of the instalments, you can make a request for a reduced rate by clicking here.
Overpayments of Local Council Tax Support are transferred onto your Council Tax account and will then be included in your future instalments.
What can I do if I disagree with the overpayment
If you disagree with the overpayment after reading our explanation you must write to us and ask for a more detailed explanation, or ask for us to look at our decision again. You need to do this within one calendar month of the date of the decision.
The things you can challenge are:
If we can recover the overpayment or not;
who we can recover it from;
how we have worked it out;
your savings and investments have reduced (only if we overpaid you because your savings and investments had increased);
if you had an underlying entitlement (you were actually entitled to receive some of the overpayment)
The things that you cannot challenge are:
Further information about disputing a benefit decision can be found by clicking here
Reporting Benefit Fraud
The Department of Works and Pension (DWP) are responsible for investigation of Housing Benefit Fraud together with Social Security Benefits.
To make sure the money goes to those who need it please contact the DWP if you know of anyone who is claiming benefit to which they are not entitled. This could be a person claiming in a name you know to be false, in more than one name or from more than one address. They also need to know if someone is claiming Income Support, or Job Seekers Allowance and working full-time. Further information on how to report benefit fraud can be found on the GOV.UK website.
You can also contact the DWP on their National Benefit Fraud Hotline 0800 854 440 or by post to NBFH, PO Box 224, PR1 1GP.