Housing Benefit overpayments

Housing benefit overpayments

An overpayment of Housing Benefit is when we pay you or your landlord an amount of Housing Benefit that you were not entitled to receive. If we have paid you too much Housing Benefit, we will usually ask you to pay back the amount we have overpaid.

If you’ve been overpaid Housing Benefit, we will write to you. Please check the letter carefully to make sure that your income and other details are correct.

If your details on the letter are correct, please do one of the following:

If you think that you will have trouble paying or if any of the details on the letter are wrong please contact us straight away, we are here to help.


If you don’t pay, we will send you a reminder. If you still don’t pay, we may get a County Court Judgment (CCJ) and take enforcement action against you.

This will immediately affect your credit rating and cost you money.

Enforcement can include:

  • going to court
  • the court deducting money directly from your wages
  • court bailiffs coming to your home and taking goods
  • if you own your home, a charging order could be placed on your property which could mean you have to sell your home.

If we’re taking amounts from your Housing Benefit to repay an overpayment and you are struggling financially because of this, you can ask us to change the amount we’re taking.


Overpayments happen for various reasons. An overpayment often occurs if you don’t tell us about a change of circumstances, for example if your income has increased or if someone has moved into or out of your property.

Overpayments due to delayed benefit awards

Sometimes, you may be claiming Housing Benefit whilst you are waiting for another Social Security benefit to be awarded.

If you are then awarded the other benefit, this may result in an overpayment of Housing Benefit. We will usually ask for this money to be repaid.

If an overpayment wasn’t your fault

If you reported a change to us and we didn’t act on it for a long time, we won’t automatically ask for it to be repaid. Much will depend on whether you knew you were being overpaid Housing Benefit at the relevant time.

To reduce the risk of an overpayment, please tell us straight away about any changes in your circumstances. You must tell us about any changes and not rely on anyone else to do it for you. Even if you have told the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), you must still tell us.

Each time your Housing Benefit entitlement is worked out, you receive a letter telling you the information we have used in the calculation. You are responsible for making sure the information we have used is correct.

Please check the letters we send to you. If you notice a mistake please contact us straight away.


In most cases overpayments are recovered from you, the claimant. This is because you would have known benefit was being overpaid, a breakdown of Housing Benefit is sent to you even if you are not receiving the payments.

Overpayments of Housing Benefit can be recovered in the following ways:

  • if you are still getting Housing Benefit, we may reduce your benefit each week to recover the overpayment
  • if you pay us rent and your rent account is in credit, we may use this credit to pay back the overpayment
  • if you receive benefit from the Department for Work and Pensions, we may take an amount from this benefit
  • if we are not paying you Housing Benefit, we may send you an invoice and you should make arrangements to pay us
  • if we paid your landlord your Housing Benefit, we may ask the landlord to repay the overpayment in certain circumstances, if the landlord would have known that they were being overpaid; or
  • if you are working, we may ask your employer to give us a percentage of your wages.

We can discuss repayment with you so that we don’t ask you to pay too much each week.


If you disagree with the overpayment after reading our explanation you must write to us and ask for a more detailed explanation, or you can ask for us to look at our decision again. You need to do this within one calendar month of the date on the letter.

If you are not satisfied with our decision or how we explain our decision, you may be able to appeal.


We may ask employers to deduct any Housing Benefit overpayments an employee owes the council from their pay. This is called a Direct Earnings Attachment.

Advice for employees

A Direct Earnings Attachment may be considered if you haven’t paid your overpayment or set up a payment plan with us.

Received a letter from us?

If you’ve received a letter from us about a Direct Earnings Attachment and want to stop your overpayment being deducted from your wages, please complete our online form to set up your payment plan

If you don’t set up a payment plan or make payment in full, we will write to your employer and ask them to make a deduction from your wages.

Current deduction rates

Weekly net earnings  % of weekly net earnings
£100 to £160 3%
£160 to £220 5%
£220 to £270 7%
£270 to £375 11%
£375 to £520 15%
More than £520 20%


Monthly net earnings  % of monthly net earnings
£430 to £690 3%
£690 to £950 5%
£950 to £1,160 7%
£1,160 to £1,615 11%
£1,615 to £2,240 15%
More than £520 20%


Where earnings are less than £100 weekly or £430 monthly, the minimum deduction is £10 per week.

Advice for employers

If an employee is affected, we will write to the employer and ask them to operate the scheme.

You don’t have to operate DEA if:

  • you started your business between 8 April 2013 and 31 March 2014
  • you have fewer than 10 employees

The employers guide provides advice on what an employer needs to do if they are asked to carry out a Direct Earnings Attachment.


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