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Housing Benefit overpayments and fraud


Overpayments occur when benefit/support is cancelled and money has already been given to you either by way of rent benefit and/or by crediting your Council Tax account.

Your overpayment should be reduced by any underlying entitlement ie benefit for the same period as the overpayment but at a lower amount based on the correct circumstances. Check your invoice for underlying entitlement. If not stated you should query this.

If you have been getting help to pay your rent, an invoice will be sent to you (or your Landlord if the Council has paid your Landlord). It is the Council's decision from whom it recovers the debt.

The invoice must be paid and you will be given the opportunity to pay by instalments if you would experience difficulty in paying a one off amount.

If you have been getting council tax support a revised council tax bill will be sent . You will need to contact the Council Tax section to organise repayment if you cannot pay the revised instalments.

Overpayments are normally recoverable.

Due to overpayments being normally recoverable, this means the Council can seek repayment through the County Court by way of a Judgement Order if the overpayment is not repaid. If an order is obtained there are extra charges to be made to you.

If we recover from your landlord the overpayment will appear as rent arrears on your rent account.

  • if the overpayment was caused by the Local Authority (or Department of Work and Pensions) and the claimant could not reasonably have known that an overpayment was occurring then the overpayment will not be recoverable
  • you must always read your entitlement letters to check that the details the Council has used in calculating your claim are correct. You must do this to avoid an overpayment occurring

Please contact the Overpayment Officer with any queries you have regarding overpayments.

Benefit fraud

We aim to maximise the take up of Housing and Council Tax support to those people who genuinely need and qualify for the benefit. We are here to help and guide claimants and encourage people to apply.

The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) aim to detect fraudulent claims and protect public money from those who are intent on defrauding the benefit system.

Some examples of benefit fraud are:

  • failing to declare changes of circumstances eg resident partner,
  • savings (capital) or
  • owning another property

If a claimant has knowingly misled the authority to obtain benefit then it will be cancelled back to the beginning of the incorrect claim (which could be over a long period of time).

  • an overpayment sum will be created of all benefits wrongly paid in respect of that claim. This overpayment must be repaid to the authority (reduced by any underlying entitlement)

The DWP may decide to prosecute under the Theft Act or Social Security Act.


Possibly add a penalty onto the overpayment which already exists or sometimes issue a caution.

You can report a suspected benefit fraud to the Department of Work and Pensions Single Fraud Investigation Unit online or by calling 0800 854440.

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