An overpayment is any amount of Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Reduction which has been paid to you, but which you are not entitled to. This could happen because you did not inform us of a change in your circumstances, or that you were late in telling us of a change.
You must tell us about changes in your circumstances yourself, as soon as possible. Don't rely on anyone else to tell us. Even if you have told another office such as the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), you must still tell us and not leave it to them to tell us.
The amount that you have been overpaid is the difference between the amount of Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Reduction you actually received and the amount that you should have received.
When an overpayment must be paid back
In almost all cases overpaid benefit has to be repaid, even if it was paid because of our error. This includes overpaid Housing Benefit and an increase in your council tax liability following a change to your Council Tax Reduction.
However, you may not have to repay the overpayment if it was an 'official error' and you could not reasonably have known that you were receiving more benefit than you were entitled to. It is therefore important that you check your notification letters carefully to check that your award details are correct.
If you have been overpaid, we will write to you giving the reason for the overpayment and a statement of the dates and amount. If you do not understand your notification letters, contact us immediately so that we can explain them to you.
In some cases, it is possible to reduce the amount of your benefit overpayment by awarding Underlying Entitlement. This is the benefit that you would have been entitled to, had your claim been based on the correct details.
For example, if your Jobseeker's Allowance stopped because you started work but you did not tell us for 2 months and did not provide evidence of your new income, you could have been overpaid. If you later provide evidence of your income showing you would have been entitled to Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction for the period of the overpayment, we will assess Underlying Entitlement to reduce the overpayment by the amount to which you were entitled.
How we work out who needs to pay
Each overpayment is different but when we work out who we need to recover the money from. Some of the things we look at are:
- what caused the overpayment
- who received the payment and when were they notified
- who could have known that the benefit being paid was too much
We can recover money that we have paid to your landlord on your behalf, from you, if we consider that your landlord could not have known that they were being overpaid.
Pay Housing Benefit back in full
If you are no longer receiving Housing Benefit, you will get a bill which you can pay online.
Pay Housing Benefit back with Automatic deductions
If you are a council tenant or private tenant and still receiving Housing Benefit, you can repay the overpayment from the benefit that you are getting. We will deduct a set amount from the benefit that you receive, each week, until the overpayment is clear. These set amounts change each year.
Pay Housing Benefit back in installments
If you cannot afford to pay the entire bill straight away you may be able to pay by instalments. You'll need to get in touch with the Benefits team to make the arrangements which you can make:
- by telephone using your debit or credit card
- by Payment Transfer or Standing Order from your bank account
- at a Post Office or PayPoint location
How to pay Council Tax Reduction overpayment back
Where you have received too much Council Tax reduction, the overpayment will be added to your Council tax bill. You will receive a new Council Tax bill and this will show new instalments and include the money that you have been overpaid.
Appeals and Complaints
If you disagree with an overpayment decision see Challenge a Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction.
Contact the Benefits Team
When contacting us about an existing claim, please remember to include your reference number in your email.Address: Oxford City Council
PO Box 10