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Overpayments

An overpayment is when you have been paid benefit when you were not entitled to it.

We will tell you the period of time the overpayment covers, the amount of the overpayment and how it occurred.

We will also tell you how we intend to recover the overpayment from you.

How do I avoid an overpayment?

Let us know as soon as possible of any changes in your circumstances to avoid a potential overpayment of benefits. You can use the online Change in Circumstances form to do this.

Do I have to repay overpaid benefit?

If you are overpaid benefit you will normally have to repay it. We will write to you and tell you:

  •  What your correct benefit is
  •  Why you were overpaid
  •  How much the overpayment is for and the method of repayment.

If you feel that the amount of benefit awarded is wrong, you can ask us for more information. This needs to be in writing.

If you do not repay the overpayment directly to us, then we can recover it by:

  • Invoice
  • Reducing your current entitlement to housing benefit
  • Adjusting your council tax bill
  • Recovering the amount from your landlord
  • Reclaiming money from your Income Support or other Department for Work and Pensions benefits
  • Making a Direct Earnings Attachment to have the money taken from your earnings/salary

Can the council recover all overpayments?

All overpayments are recoverable.

The only exception is if an official error occurs and is combined with a situation where the claimant or person to whom the payment was made (including landlord/agents) could not have known at the time of payment that there was no entitlement to that rate of benefit.

Official errors can include mistakes made by the local authority (Boston Borough Council), Job Centre Plus, or The Pension Service.

Who has to pay back the overpayment?

We can recover the overpayment from the person who made the claim.

We may also recover the overpayment from the person who received the payments (landlord or agent), or from anyone who caused the overpayment.

How do I pay back an overpayment?

There are a number of ways in which you can clear your overpayment:

  • If you are still entitled to benefit we can reduce your weekly benefit by an agreed amount
  • If you have just started work, you may be able to get up to four weeks additional benefit
  • If you are no longer entitled to benefit, you can repay the overpayment in agreed instalments
  • You may be able to reduce or off-set the overpayment if you have any benefit due or un cashed benefit cheques (arrears due)
  • We can do a calculation to see if there would be a reduction in the original overpayment (underlying entitlement). You must provide proof of your income, capital and full household details.

What if I don't or can't pay?

If a court order is made for the repayment, your credit rating may be affected until the debt is cleared. If no payment is made, the County Court bailiff can be empowered to recover the debt, which may include the removal and sale of personal articles.

We are committed to recovering outstanding debts to the authority, but not at levels that would cause an individual hardship.