The UK Benefits System Is Changing
The Government is making changes to the current Welfare System which could affect you. The changes will take affect from 1st April 2013.
This means that if you receive benefits the amount you get and how you get it may change.
Where do I find information?
The information leaflet Benefit Changes - Welfare Reform Act 2012 will help you find out who will be affected and where you can go for advice. The leaflet is available to the right of this page.
The leaflet contains details about:
- Council Tax Support Scheme
- Under Occupation in Social Housing
- Benefit Cap
- Social Fund Scheme
- Disability Living Allowance
- Local Housing Allowance Rates
If after reading the leaflet you need further help or advice, please contact us on the details to the bottom of the page.
What are overpayments?
An overpayment occurs where you have been paid more Benefit than you are entitled to. A change of circumstances may reduce your benefit. This could be for a number of reasons.
An increase in your income
Someone moving in with you
- You moving out of the property
If we do not know about a change in circumstances until sometime after it has happened an overpayment may occur. If an overpayment arises, the Council are legally obliged to try and get the money back.
Reducing an overpayment
We may be able to reduce the amount of an overpayment by using a method called ‘underlying entitlement’.
The principle of underlying entitlement is to award a notional amount of benefit which reduces the amount of any overpayment which has been previously calculated, by the amount of benefit that you would have been entitled to had all the correct facts been established at the time.
When you are notified of your overpayment you will be asked to provide details of your circumstances for the period of the overpayment. You will have a calendar month to provide this information.
How will the overpayment be recovered?
The overpayment may be recovered from either the person who caused the overpayment, or the person who received the overpayment.
Do you always recover the overpayment in one go?
Overpayments of housing benefit will, if possible, be recovered direct from your on-going entitlement to benefit at set weekly rates.
If your housing benefit is paid direct to your Landlord we will notify you and your landlord of the overpayment and we will deduct a set amount from your benefit entitlement from the amount that is sent direct to your Landlord.
If you no longer qualify for Housing Benefit an invoice will be sent to you and if you cannot make full payment all in one go, you can make a request to arrange repayment of the debt by instalments.
Arrangements can be made by calling the Housing Benefit Recovery Section on 01685 725312.
What if I can't pay the money back?
If you let us know that you are having difficulty making repayments we can consider recovering the debt over a longer period of time. You should contact the Housing Benefit Recovery Section on 01685 725312.
Can I appeal against an overpayment?
Yes - you have one calendar month from the date you are notified about the overpayment in which to make an appeal. Further information is available using the links on the left hand side of this page.
If we are making direct deductions from benefit being paid to your Landlord they can also appeal.
Important information for landlords
A landlord can only request a review where recovery is being sought from him personally; that is, where an invoice for payment has been issued to him, or a deduction is being made from the benefit he receives for one of his tenants in order to recover an overpayment owed by the landlord.
If a landlord habitually fails to repay overpayments that are recoverable from him, the Council can decide that the landlord is not a 'fit and proper person' under Benefit Regulations, and can refuse to make direct benefit payments to that landlord.
What happens if the Overpayment is not repaid?
Please do not ignore our letters as the debt will not go way. If the overpayment remains unpaid, or an agreement to repay the debt is not being maintained , the Council may take legal action through the Courts to recover the debt owed.
If we do have to take further action to recover the money the amount you owe will increase because if the debt is taken to Court, costs will be incurred.