How we get overpaid housing benefit back

Sometimes we have to review your benefit because you’ve had a change in circumstances or we find a mistake. If we’ve paid you too much benefit, there will be an overpayment that you'll need to pay back.

It's your responsibility to pay the difference between your housing benefit and your rent if your benefit has been reduced.

Changes that can affect your housing benefit 

We work out your housing benefit by looking at the details of everyone who lives in your house. This includes your partner, children and any non-dependents.

We'll need to recalculate your housing benefit if:

  • you or your partner stop receiving Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance or Pension Credit.
  • there are other changes to your income or the income of anyone who lives with you.
  • someone moves in or out of your house.
  • you move address (this includes moving flats or rooms in the same building).
  • your Tax Credit changes.
  • any of your children leave school.
  • your rent has changed.
  • you have more or less in your savings.
  • there are changes in the circumstances of any non-dependents (link to page) who live with you
  • if you have any more children or any children start living in your home.

You can read more on our changes in circumstances webpage and fill in our online form to tell us about any changes. 

What happens after you've told us about a change to your circumstances 

When you've told us about any changes we'll work out if it affects your housing benefit and write to you with your new benefit award. If you've been overpaid we'll tell you:

  • how much you've been overpaid
  • how the overpayment happened
  • who's responsible for paying it back

How to pay us back if you've been overpaid

If you're still receiving housing benefit we can reduce the amount of benefit we pay you - or your landlord if he receives your housing benefit - until the overpayment is cleared. 

If you're not receiving housing benefit we'll send you (or your landlord) an invoice to pay the overpaid amount back. If you can't pay the full amount back please contact us to set up a monthly instalment plan.

You can pay:

  • online on our pay page
  • by calling our automated payment line on 0845 0758518
  • by standing order (you'll need to quote your invoice number, the date, our council bank account number and the date the instalments are to be paid)
  • through your Berneslai Home rent account if it's in credit

If you pay us too much you can fill in our form to ask for a refund.

If you're having difficulty paying us back

If you can't keep up with the repayments we've asked you to make you can ask us to reduce them, for a temporary period of 12 weeks.

You can apply using the form below, we'll need to know:

  • the overpayment amount
  • your invoice number
  • your income (salary, benefits etc)
  • your outgoings (rent, utility bills etc)

If you don't pay

If you fail to pay your overpayment invoice on time, we’ll send you a reminder telling you how much is overdue. You’ll need to pay this within fourteen days.  If you don't pay or don't arrange instalments to pay we can take further action.

Direct Earnings Attachment

If you're working we can ask your employer to deduct your housing benefit overpayments from your pay. This is called a Direct Earnings Attachment.

The amount that we can ask your employer to deduct is worked out nationally and you can see the calculation here on the government's website.

If you disagree with the overpayment

If you don't agree that you've been overpaid you have a right to appeal against our decision by filling in our form below.