East Devon District Council

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Guide An overview of Council Tax Support

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7. Overpayments

An overpayment is any amount of Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction (or both) which we paid you or your landlord when you were not entitled to get it.

When overpayments occur, we look in to the reasons why and decide if we can recover the money and who we can recover it from.

Overpayments happen for a number of reasons and include:

  • You may have forgotten to tell us that your income has increased, for example, you have had a pay rise or your tax credit award or pension amount has changed.
  • Somebody may have moved into, or out of, your home.
  • You may have moved out of your home and not told us.
  • You may have started work or changed jobs.
  • If you have other adults living with you, their circumstances may have changed.
  • Your Income Support (IS) or Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) ended.

Even if you have told the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about any changes, you must still tell us and not rely on anyone else to do it for you.

Steps to take to prevent overpayments from happening

  1. Fill out your Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Support application form as fully as possible so that we can work out your entitlement accurately.
  2. If we ask you for more information, please send what we ask for without delay. Only send original documents, not photocopies.
  3. Read your decision letter carefully. Check that the information we have based your Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Support on is correct.  If we have made a mistake, or used the wrong information, please tell us immediately.
  4. Please tell us about any changes in your circumstances as soon as they happen.

When we may be able to reduce the overpayment - underlying entitlement

If you have been overpaid Housing benefit we may (in some circumstances) be able to reduce the overpayment by calculating underlying entitlement to benefit.

This is not an award of benefit, but a calculation of what you would have been entitled to had the council assessed your Housing Benefit with the correct information. This happens automatically in some cases, but in other situations you have to apply to us.

Example 1

You receive an increase in your income but forget to tell us until your next claim is due for review. When we assess your claim, we include the increased income from the date it changed, and you are notified how much benefit you have been overpaid. In this example you have already had your underlying entitlement calculated, because we know what your circumstances were for this period and are able to calculate the underlying entitlement automatically.

Example 2

There are times when we do not know what your circumstances were. In this case, if your entitlement to income based job seekers allowance (JSA) stops, and the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) tell us that you have not been entitled to JSA for the last six months, we have to stop your Housing Benefit from that date and work out how much you have been overpaid since your JSA stopped. However, if you told us that the reason behind your JSA stopping was the fact that you had started work, we could calculate if you would still have been entitled to some Housing Benefit during the overpaid period. This is called your underlying entitlement. The underlying entitlement would then reduce the overpayment. In this situation you would have to apply to us. Any remaining balance would then be recovered in the normal way.

Applying for underlying entitlement

Please provide proof of all income, capital and circumstances during the overpaid period(s). You do not need to complete a new form for the overpaid period, but you will have to for the new benefit period.

If you are unsure of the information you need to provide, please contact us on 01395 517446 or email benefits@eastdevon.gov.uk

If you do not apply for underlying entitlement, the whole of the overpayment is payable.