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Council Tax Support overpayments

If your claim has been recalculated and you end up being sent too much benefit, we’ll send you a letter about your overpayment.
In almost all cases, overpaid benefit must be repaid, even if it was paid because of our error. However, you may not have to repay the overpayment if it was an 'official error' and you could not reasonably have known that you were receiving more benefit than you were entitled to.

What happens if I’ve received an overpayment

If we find that you’ve had an overpayment after re-assessing your claim, we’ll send you the full details. We’ll tell you:

  • what caused the overpayment
  • the dates and the amount of the overpayment
  • how much the overpayment is
  • what to do if you disagree with the overpayment.

If we need you to pay us back the money, we’ll write to you again telling you how to do this.

Request an explanation

If there’s anything you do not understand about your benefit decision or you think the overpayment calculation is incorrect, contact us to request an explanation. This is called a statement of reasons and we must receive a written request for a statement of reasons within one month of the date of the decision.

Why I’ve received an overpayment of benefit

There are several reasons why you may have received an overpayment of benefit, including:

  • you may have forgotten to let us know that your income has increased
  • somebody may have moved into or out of your home
  • your non-dependent residents may have changed their circumstances
  • you may have moved out of your home and not told us
  • you may have started work or changed jobs
  • you may have told us about a change, but we have been unable to re-assess your claim before your next payment is made.

You must tell us of any change in circumstances that could affect your claim. It’s your responsibility and you should not rely on anyone else to tell us about any changes.

If we believe that benefit fraud has been committed, we'll recover any money you're not entitled to. You could also be prosecuted.

If we've overpaid your Council Tax Support, there are several ways that you can pay us back:

  • we can reduce your Council Tax Support each week by the instalment amount shown on your letter until the overpayment is repaid in full
  • we may send you an invoice to be paid in full; there are many options available for you to easily pay back the debt – online, over the phone, by standing order.

What happens if I do not pay

After 21 days we’ll send a reminder. If the balance is unpaid and no arrangement is in place, the overpayment could be collected through the following methods.

Direct Earnings Attachment (DEA)

If you’re working (and not self-employed) we can request direct deductions from your pay. We may therefore contact your employer to make deductions. If we take this action, we’ll notify you in writing before any money is taken. You can find more information in the Direct Earnings Attachment - A Guide for Employers.

Deductions from your state benefit

We can make deductions from your benefits, 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
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Universal Credit
  • Personal Independence Payments (PIP).

Recovery from other councils

If you’ve moved away and have made a new Council Tax Support claim in that area, we can ask the new council to recover the overpayment from your ongoing benefit.

County Court

If your debt remains unpaid, we’ll apply for an Order for Enforcement of Award.

If we do take legal action, any related fees will be added to your overpayment debt:

  • recovery order - £44
  • oral examination at court - £55
  • direct earnings attachment - £110.

Further actions available to us are:

  • an order to obtain information – you'll need to attend court to explain your financial circumstances
  • a warrant of execution carried out by a court-appointed bailiff
  • a third-party debt order allowing us to freeze your bank accounts
  • a charging order
  • a statutory demand/bankruptcy order
  • a writ of Fieri Facias carried out by a High Court enforcement officer to repossess your goods.

Underlying Entitlement

Underlying Entitlement is the amount of Council Tax Support you would have been entitled to if we had known about your true circumstances at the time of the changed circumstances. If you supply details of your income and capital for the period of the overpayment, we can work out what your entitlement would have been if we had known about your changes and use this amount of Council Tax Support to reduce what you owe.

Please contact us for any help you need with Council Tax Support repayments.