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Guide An overview of Housing Benefit

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8. What happens if the overpayment is not repaid?

Once we have sent an invoice and the debt remains unpaid, after 30 days we will then send a reminder followed by a final notice. If the balance is still outstanding and no arrangement is in place, the overpayment could be collected through:

Direct earnings attachment (DEAs)

If you are working (and not self-employed) under the Social Security (Overpayment and Recovery) Regulations 2013 we can request direct deductions from your pay. We may therefore contact your employer to make deductions. If we take this route in order to recover your arrears you will be notified in writing prior to any payments being deducted. More information is in the Employers Guide to DEAs

Debt collection agent

We currently use Ross and Roberts Limited and Rossendales to act on our behalf to collect unpaid overpayments.

They will attempt recovery by letter, telephone and doorstep collection. Their agents will attempt recovery in full but are also authorised to make and manage payment arrangements within guidelines set by us. 

Deductions from your state benefit

Such as Jobseekers Allowance, Employment Support Allowance, Retirement Pension, Income Support, Maternity Allowance, Industrial Injuries Benefit, Widow(er)s Benefit, Bereavement Benefit, State Pension Credit, Carer’s Allowance, Disability Allowance, or Attendance Allowance.

Recovery from other local councils

If you have moved away and have made a new Housing Benefit claim in that area we can ask the new council to recover the overpayment from your ongoing benefit.


If we paid your landlord your benefit, in certain circumstances we may ask the landlord to repay the overpayment. This is known as Blameless Tenant recovery.

County Court

If your debt still remains unpaid then the council will apply to the County Court. If this recovery action is necessary you will incur further costs based on both the amount owed and type of follow up action taken.

Further actions available to the council are:

  • Order to obtain information (attend court to explain in detail your financial circumstances)
  • A warrant of execution (carried out by a court appointed Bailiff)
  • A third party debt order (allowing us to freeze all of your bank accounts)
  • An attachment of earnings order
  • A charging order
  • A statutory demand/bankruptcy order
  • Writ of Fieri Facias (carried out by a High Court Enforcement Officer)