What is an Overpayment?
An overpayment is an amount of housing benefit that we have paid
to you or your Landlord which you are not entitled to. In other
words, you have received too much housing benefit.
Why do overpayments happen?
Overpayments can happen for various reasons such as:
- You may have forgotten to tell us that your income has
- You may have forgotten to tell us that your capital has
- You may have forgotten to tell us that someone has moved in or
out of your home
- You may have moved
- You may have other adults living with you and their
circumstances may have changed
Is the overpayment ‘recoverable’?
We can only ask you to repay an overpayment if it is
‘recoverable’. This is where we haven’t made a mistake on your
claim and the overpayment has simply happened because of changes in
What happens if I think that the Council has made a
If you think that we have made a mistake on your claim and this
mistake has caused an overpayment you can write to us and ask us to
make the overpayment ‘unrecoverable’. Before you do this check to
make sure you can answer YES to all of the questions below:
- Has the Council, DWP or Inland Revenue made a mistake?
- Neither you nor any other person acting on your behalf caused
or contributed to the mistake?
- Neither you nor any other person acting on your behalf could
reasonably be expected to know that the overpayment was happening
when you were notified or paid?
If you can answer yes to these questions we may be able to make
the overpayment ‘unrecoverable’ and this means that you won’t have
to repay it. To find out how to do this see below – What do I do if
I disagree with the overpayment?
Who has to repay it?
If the overpayment is recoverable, we will look at why it has
happened and ask you or your Landlord to repay it. We will write to
you and tell you who we want to recover it from when the
overpayment is created.
Can the overpayment be reduced?
If the overpayment happened because the wrong amount of capital
was used on your claim we may be able to reduce the overpayment.
For this to apply the ‘relevant period’ must be at least 13 weeks
and there must have been a mistake in the amount of capital used on
your claim. If you think this applies to you, please contact
If the overpayment happened because we didn’t have your correct
circumstances, we may be able to reduce the overpayment if you tell
us about your correct circumstances for the period of the
overpayment. This is called ‘underlying entitlement’. We won’t be
able to pay you any more, but we may be able to give you back what
you should have been entitled to if we had known about your correct
circumstances and use this to reduce the overpayment. If you think
that this applies to you, please provide us with all of your income
and capital details for the exact period of the overpayment and ask
us to calculate your ‘underlying entitlement’.
How can I repay the overpayment?
If we have sent you an invoice, you can repay it via any of the
methods detailed below:
- Via our website www.bedford.gov.uk
- Telephone payment via the Council’s credit/debit card hotline –
01234 718061. Please have your bank details and the 7 digit
invoice number ready when you telephone this number. There is
a service charge of 1.67% for credit card payments.
- National Giro at the Post Office. Please quote your 7
digit invoice number, together with our Giro number 3091414.
- Standing Order. Our bankers are the National Westminster
Bank PLC. Please quote our Account number 62288849 and sort
code 60-02-13, together with your full 7 digit invoice number.
- Send a cheque in the post made payable to Bedford Borough
Council, quoting your 7 digit invoice number.
- Cash/cheque or debit/credit card at the Cash Hall located at
the rear of the Customer Service Centre. Please make cheques
payable to Bedford Borough Council and quote your 7 digit invoice
number. There is a service charge of 1.67% for credit card
If you are still in receipt of housing benefit we will usually
make a deduction from your housing benefit to repay the
What will happen if I do not make payment?
If we have sent you an invoice payment is due on demand.
However, if you cannot afford to pay in a lump sum we can usually
come to an arrangement with you so that you can pay in
If you do not maintain your instalments we will write to you or
telephone you to see if there is a problem and if we can help
If you still do not make payment or ignore our letters and
telephone calls we will either:
- Ask the DWP to deduct money from your DWP benefit to repay
- Ask our Collection Agent to visit you to enforce recovery
Obtain a Court Order. If the Council obtains an Order an initial
application fee of £40.00 will be added to your debt. When
the Council seeks to enforce this Order, a further fee of £100.00
will be added to your debt. This course of action may result
in one or any of the following:
- An Attachment of Earnings Order
- A Charging Order
- A Warrant of Execution
- 3rd Party Debt Order
This list is not exhaustive and the Council will seek to enforce
the Order via whichever method of enforcement is available based
upon your circumstances.
Landlords – we will deduct the value of the overpayment from any
other payment that is issued to you
Please do not ignore us. We can usually come to an arrangement that
is suitable for you and for us.
What do I do if I can’t afford what you have asked me to
Write or telephone us immediately to put us in the picture.
Complete the income/expenditure form together with your offer of
payment. Once we have received this we will be able to negotiate a
What do I do if I want to clear my overpayment in full or pay it
off more quickly?
If we are recovering the overpayment by reducing your housing
benefit entitlement but you want to pay it off in full, please call
us to arrange this. We will either send you an invoice or ask you
to make payment to a special number.
If you have already received an invoice or are already paying by
instalments and you want to pay the invoice in full, just make
payment using your existing 7 digit invoice number. You can make
payment via any of the methods in How can I repay the
What do I do if I disagree with the overpayment?
If you disagree with the overpayment you can write to us and ask
us to give you a more detailed explanation. If you still don’t
agree with the overpayment you can ask us to look at the decision
again. The things that you can ask us to look at are:
- whether the overpayment is ‘recoverable’ or not
- who we can recover it from
- how we have worked out your overpayment
- any calculation of underlying entitlement
- the fact that your savings and investments have reduced
You must write to us within 1 calendar month of the date that we
tell you about the overpayment if you want to dispute it.
If we look at our decision again and you are still not happy with
it you can appeal. To appeal you must write to us within 1 calendar
month of the date that we told you about the overpayment. You must
clearly state that you want to appeal and explain what it is that
you think is wrong and the reasons why you think the decision is
wrong. You must sign any appeal that you make.
You cannot appeal about how the Authority chooses to recover an
overpayment from you or whether the Authority chooses to recover
What do I do if I don’t agree with the Authority’s decision to
choose to recover the overpayment?
If you have an overpayment and decide that it is correct and
that you don’t want to legally dispute it, you can always ask the
Council to use its discretion and not recover it. This is different
to a formal dispute or appeal because it does not come under The
Housing Benefit Regulations 2006. It is a decision that the
Authority makes on its own. To do this you should write directly to
the Overpayment Section explaining why you think that we should
write off the overpayment. You will need to explain your reasons
and any special circumstances that you feel are relevant. Please
note that if this decision is not granted in your favour that there
is no right of appeal against it. In addition, there is no set
timescale that you have to make this request to us.
Contact the Overpayments team
Tel. 01234 718072
Expenditure Form Housing Benefit