Overpayments

An overpayment of Housing Benefit/Council Tax Rebate is an amount of benefit which you have been paid to which you were not entitled.

There are several reasons why this may have happened. For example you may have had a change in your circumstance that has reduced the weekly entitlement and we did not have all the details about this in time to stop the wrong amount being paid to you or your landlord. In almost all cases, overpaid benefit has to be repaid.

Frequently Asked Questions


How can I avoid being overpaid Housing Benefit/Council Tax Rebate?

What can I do if I have been overpaid Housing Benefit/Council Tax Rebate?

How do I repay Council Tax Rebate Overpayment?

Who should repay the Housing Benefit overpayment if the money was sent to the landlord?

How do you recover the Housing Benefit overpayment if I’m still entitled to Housing Benefit?

What if I cannot afford to repay the Overpayment invoice in full?

What happens if I do not pay?


How can I avoid being overpaid Housing Benefit/Council Tax Rebate?

Tell us promptly about any changes in your circumstances, for example moving house, someone joining or leaving your household, a change in income such as Tax Credits or a change in the type of benefit you or your partner receive such as a change from Employment and Support Allowance to Jobseekers Allowance.  If you are in doubt about whether a change will affect your benefit, tell us anyway.

Do not assume that someone else will tell us about the change, such as the Job Centre - it is your responsibility to tell West Somerset Council’s benefit department when the change happens.

You can report changes of circumstance by email, telephone or on the link below. If you telephone to report a change you will be asked to confirm the change in writing and supply some supporting evidence if necessary.

You can use the Benefits Change of Circumstance online form to report changes


What can I do if I have been overpaid Housing Benefit/Council Tax Rebate?

You will be sent letters telling you about the overpayment of Housing Benefit.

Those letters will tell you:

  • How the overpayment of benefit occurred
  • The amount of the overpayment 
  • The period of the overpayment
  • Who is being held responsible for repayment

You should read the letters carefully and check the information they contain.

If you still do not understand the letters you can ask us to give you an explanation. You can do this by telephone, email or you can write to us.

The letter telling you of the Housing Benefit/Council Tax Rebate overpayment, will also advise you of your right to ask for a revision (look at the decision again) or to appeal, if you disagree with the decision. The time limit for a revision or for making an appeal is one calendar month from the date on the letter telling you of the decision. You can view our appeal information

The overpayment can be reduced by the amount you would have received had you made your claim on time and in the correct manner. This is called an underlying assessment. If we have the information available when the overpayment is calculated we will reduce the overpayment for you. If it is not available you will have one calendar month from the date of the overpayment letter to supply the information necessary to calculate the underlying assessment.  


How do I repay Council Tax Rebate Overpayment?

Your Council Tax Rebate overpayment will automatically go on your Council Tax bill. A new bill will be issued to you stating the new amount payable. Council Tax information


Who should repay the Housing Benefit overpayment if the money was sent to the landlord?

A tenant can be asked to repay a Housing Benefit overpayment even if the money has been paid to the landlord. A landlord can be asked to repay Housing Benefit they have received on behalf of their tenant even if the tenant owes them money or has left the property. The decision about who is liable to repay the money will be based on the facts of each individual case.


How do you recover the Housing Benefit overpayment if I’m still entitled to Housing Benefit?

Housing Benefit overpayments will be recovered from ongoing benefit entitlement where entitlement to Housing Benefit remains until the overpayment is cleared, this is a standard rate, set by the Department of Work and Pensions and updated annually.

If recovery is made by ongoing benefit deductions, you can ask us to reconsider the amount of the weekly deduction if you cannot afford the amount. You should contact us and say what you can afford. However, if the debt is a large amount, or you propose an unreasonably low figure then you may be required to complete a form with details of your income and expenditure before an decision can be made about reducing the weekly deduction from your benefit entitlement

You must increase your rent payments to take account of this deduction to prevent rent arrears.


What if I cannot afford to repay the Overpayment invoice in full?

If you are sent an invoice for the overpayment and you are unable to pay this in full, you can arrange an instalments plan. You should start making some payments straight away and contact us with your offer of repayment. If it is a large debt, or you have offered an unreasonably low figure, you may be asked to complete a form with details of your income and expenditure before an agreement can be reached.

The Council can accept weekly or monthly payment arrangements, please contact the Recovery Department by email benefits@westsomerset.gov.uk or contact customer services 01643703704 to discuss repayments. Please ensure you quote your Invoice number with any correspondence.

Instalments can made by standing order, online, over the telephone, Internet banking, by Post or in person at one of our offices or at the Post office. Paying an Invoice


What happens if I do not pay?

You will receive a Reminder and Final Notice, however, if after these letters the balance remains unpaid and no arrangement is in place, your overpayment will be sent to external Collection agents.

If you are working (and not self-employed) under the Social Security (Overpayment and Recovery) Regulations 2013 we can now request direct deductions from your pay so we may contact your employer direct to seek direct deductions. If the Council takes the Direct Earnings Attachment in order to recover your arrears you will be notified in writing prior to any payments being deducted.

Other recovery methods include:

Deductions direct 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 Authorities, 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 your debt still remains unpaid then the Council will send you another warning letter prior to applying to the Country Court for a CCJ (County Court Judgement).

If this recovery action is necessary you will incur further costs based on both the amount owed and type of follow up action taken.

The 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)

See more information on Debt Advice.