How do we get it back if you get too much Housing Benefit?
Housing Benefit instalments
- For Housing Benefit, if you're still on benefit we can take money out of each week's benefit to take back what we have overpaid you.
- There are legal limits to how much we can take each week - for 2014/15 we won't usually take more than £10.95 a week unless you have committed fraud. Sometimes we take a lower amount. We can take more if we think it's appropriate. Contact us if we're taking so much each week that it's causing you a serious problem.
For council tenants, if your rent account is in credit (that is, you've paid more rent that you already owe) we may take this credit off the account. But we won't put your account into arrears (take more than the credit so that you owe more rent).
Using other money we owe you
If we owe you benefit to pay for some other period, we can keep the money and use it to repay what we have overpaid you.
If we've been paying your benefit to a private landlord, housing association or housing trust, we may ask them to repay the money. This could mean that you owe more rent.
We may send you a bill (we call it an invoice). Please make arrangements to pay it. If you can't pay all at once, we can arrange instalments, and there are several ways you can pay. But if we don't hear from you or you don't make payments when they are due, we will take further action to get the money back from you. This could include:
- Asking your employer to make a Direct Earnings Attachment to your wages. This means that a set amount, based on your earnings after tax and National Insurance, will be deducted from your pay each payday and paid over to us until your overpayment is repaid.
- Using a collection agency who may call at your home.
- Registering the debt with the county court and asking them to force you to pay it back. This is the same as having a court order against you so it will affect your credit rating. This could make it difficult for you to get a loan or credit in the future.
If you owe us a large amount of money we may also take steps to make you bankrupt.
Other ways we can get the money back
- We can ask the Department for Work and Pensions to take money out of your benefits.
- We can ask another council to take money out of any Housing Benefit they are paying you.