An overpayment is when you have been paid benefit or support that you are not entitled to.

This can happen because:

  • you left your home and we paid you for a period after you left
  • you, or a member of your household, had a change in circumstances or income, which meant you were entitled to less benefit, and we had already paid you at a higher rate
  • you didn't tell us that your circumstances had changed and we paid you benefit or support that you were not entitled to.
Do I have to pay the money back?

Not always, we have to decide whether the overpayment is recoverable.

You will be required to pay it back if you:

  • didn't tell us about a change in your circumstances or income
  • carried on receiving benefit that you knew you would not be entitled to

However you may not be required to pay it back if we:

  • made a mistake and you could not have known that you were receiving the wrong amount of benefit or support.
What if the overpayment is recoverable?

If the overpayment is recoverable, then we will need to decide who to recover it from. This will be the person who failed to tell us about the information that caused the overpayment. This could be either the claimant or the landlord, depending on what the information was.

So, if an overpayment was caused by the claimant's income increasing, even though the landlord may have been receiving the payments, we would still recover the money owed from the claimant, as the landlord could not have reasonably known he was being overpaid.

Reducing your overpayment

In some cases, it is possible to reduce the amount of your benefit overpayment by awarding 'underlying entitlement'.

Underlying entitlement is the benefit that you would have been entitled to, had your claim been based on the correct details.  

For example, you started work and so we cancelled your claim as we weren’t told how much your wage was. So an overpayment was created. You then provide your wage details at a later date and we decide that you would have been entitled to some form of benefit or support for this period. We will then reduce your overpayment by this amount.

If you don't agree with the overpayment

If you don't agree with the amount of the overpayment, you can ask for an explanation of how we worked it out.

If you don't agree that there was any overpaid benefit or support, or that you shouldn't pay it back, then you can appeal against it.

How do I pay the overpayment back?

If you are still receiving benefit or support then we can take some of this money each week to repay your overpayment.

If not, then we will send you an invoice. If you can't pay this back in full, you will need to contact the overpayments section to arrange to pay by installments.

Other ways to pay:

  • Debit card – telephone 01925 442196
  • Automated payment system – telephone 0300 456 0530 available 24 hours per day
  • Allpay – you can pay using the invoice sent to you at any post office or outlet displaying the ‘paypoint’ logo.
  • Standing order - telephone 01925 442196.
  • Cheque – made payable to Warrington Borough Council. Please write your invoice number on the back and send it to: 

The Overpayment Section, Benefits and Exchequer Services, New Town House, Buttermarket Street, Warrington WA1 2NH

If you need any further advice, you can contact the overpayment section, by calling us on 01925 442196, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, Monday to Friday.