Housing Benefit overpayments

An overpayment is an amount of housing benefit that has been paid, but for which there was no entitlement under the regulations.

Overpayments usually occur because you have delayed or failed to tell the Council about a change in your circumstances.

A fraudulent overpayment may occur when a person deliberately provides a false statement or document or has deliberately failed to report a change of circumstances with the intention of obtaining or retaining benefit.

If you have been overpaid Housing Benefit, we will normally want the money repaid.

What if I don't understand the reason for the overpayment?

If you do not understand or would like more information about the overpayment, please send an email to benefits@milton-keynes.gov.uk, stating your name, address claim reference number and the information you would like to know.

What happens if I disagree with the overpayment?

You have a month from the date we first told you about the overpayment, to ask us to look at the decision again (known as a revision) This must be done in writing, stating full reasons why you do not agree with the decision.

If we look at the decision again and you are still unhappy with the outcome, you have a further month from when we notified you of our review decision, to ask for an appeal. This must also be made in writing. For more information see our appeals page.

Repaying an overpayment whilst you are still getting Housing Benefit

If an overpayment occurs and you are still getting Housing Benefit, we will reduce your future Housing Benefit payments by an amount deducted each week to pay back the overpayment, until the balance is cleared.  You will be notified of this before the deductions start.

From April 2022, the standard rate of overpayment recovery is £11.55 per week. A higher rate of £19.25 per week applies for overpayments caused by fraud. This may be increased if you are working.

The standard weekly recovery rates are set by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and are normally increased in April of each year.

You will need to increase the amount you pay your landlord for your rent, by this amount; otherwise, you will fall into rent arrears. You are responsible for paying this shortfall to your rent.

If you would prefer to have your overpayment balance recovered at a weekly rate that is higher than the rate that is set for you, you can request this by telephoning the benefits helpline on 01908 253100. If you would like the amount to be temporarily reduced, you will need to complete an income and Expenditure form, you can request one of these forms by emailing benefits@milton-keynes.gov.uk

Fraudulent over-payments

An overpayment may be treated as fraudulent if the local authority can establish that, on the balance of probabilities, there has been either:

  • a breach of Section 111A or 112 of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 (false representations for obtaining benefit;) or,
  • an identified person knowingly failed to report a relevant change of circumstances, contrary to the requirements of Regulation 75 of the Housing Benefit (General) Regulations 1987, or Regulation 65 of the Council Tax Benefit (General) Regulations 1992, with the intent to obtain or retain benefit for themselves or some other person.

Failure to notify a change of circumstances must have been carried out deliberately. There must be evidence of dishonest intent, not inadvertence, lack of understanding, or negligence on the part of the claimant.

It is against the law to give information, which is not correct or not to tell us everything that is relevant to your claim. Any person, found to be claiming fraudulently, will be prosecuted.

Paying with a one-off payment

If you would prefer to pay your whole overpayment balance in a one-off payment, please call the Recovery Team to arrange this on 01908 254955 and press option 3 to speak to a member of the team. This line is open Monday to Friday from 9.00am to 3.00pm. You can arrange to make your payment by debit card, credit card or electron card.  Alternatively, you can make an online payment on the Council’s website,  epayments. You will need your 10-digit invoice number, the amount you want to pay, together with your payment card details. This service is available 24 hours a day.

Housing Benefit Overpayments and Invoices

Please be aware that for all arrangements to pay by instalments must be accepted by the Recovery Team first. Instalments are agreed based on the size of the overpayment and how long it will take to be repaid. In certain circumstances you may be asked to complete a Financial Assessment Form and provide proof of your monthly income and expenditure.

Methods of payment for benefit invoices

Housing Benefit invoices are due in full, on the date shown on the invoice.

If you think you won’t be able to pay in full, you should contact the Recovery Team on 01908 254955 press option 3, before the invoice is due for payment to make alternative arrangements.  If you are having difficulties with money you can also ask us about options to pay by weekly or monthly instalments.

Payment options:

Repaying by Direct Debit

Most Direct Debits can be set up over the phone.  To take advantage of this option, call us on 01908 254955 press option 3. The lines are open between 09.00 – 15.00 hours Monday to Friday. You should have your bank account details ready.  There are two Direct Debit collection dates to choose from: 1st or 20th of each month.

Once your Direct Debit Instruction form is received, they will contact you if further information is required.

The Direct Debit Guarantee

This Guarantee is offered by all banks and building societies that accept instructions to pay Direct Debits.

If there are any changes to the amount, date or frequency of your Direct Debit, Milton Keynes Council will notify you 10 working days in advance of your account being debited or as otherwise agreed. If you request Milton Keynes Council to collect a payment, confirmation of the amount and date will be given to you at the time of the request.

If an error is made in the payment of your Direct Debit, by Milton Keynes Council or your bank or building society you are entitled to a full and immediate refund of the amount paid from your bank or building society.  If you receive a refund you are not entitled to, you must pay it back when Milton Keynes Council asks you to.

You can cancel a Direct Debit at any time by simply contacting your bank or building society. Written confirmation may be required. Please also notify us.

By debit/credit card online or by phone

You can make an online payment on the Council’s website, go to Payments to the Council and select Overpaid Benefit Recovery. You will need your 10-digit invoice number, the amount you want to pay, together with your payment card details. This service is available 24 hours a day.

Alternatively, you can pay on the 24-hour payment line, call 01908 253940 and select option 5. You will need your 10-digit invoice number, the amount you want to pay, together with your payment card details.

Internet banking, telephone banking, Bacs and other bank transfers

If your bank offers internet banking or telephone banking services with your account, you may use these services to pay your Housing Benefit invoice.

In all cases, the payment reference to quote with your bank transfer or Bacs payment, is your 10-digit invoice number. Payments should be made to:

Bank Account Number:  37171542

Sort Code:  60-14-55 (NatWest)

Paying by Standing Order

You will need to contact your Bank or Building Society to set up a Standing Order. Use your 10-digit invoice number as the reference. The sort code 60-14-55 and account number 37171542.

Sending payments by post

Cheques or postal orders should be made payable to Milton Keynes Council and sent to: Housing Benefit Recovery, Milton Keynes Council, Civic Offices, 1 Saxon Gate East, Milton Keynes, MK9 3EJ. Please ensure that you write clearly your 10-digit invoice number, the claim reference, your name, and your address on the reverse of your cheque or money order.

What will happen if an overpayment is not repaid?

Where an invoice remains unpaid, or an agreed arrangement to repay the debt over time is not being maintained, the Council may instruct a debt collection agency, contact your employer for deductions of earnings or take action in the County Court. If a County Court Judgement (CCJ) is granted, this will affect your ability to obtain credit for six years.

Our staff are here to help and should you get into difficulties with your repayments, please contact the Recovery Team on 01908 254955 (press option 3) or email recovery@milton-keynes.gov.uk