Housing benefit and council tax support

If we overpay you

An overpayment is when you have been paid benefit/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 that you weren't 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/support.

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 overpayment from the claimant as the landlord could not have reasonably known he was being overpaid.

Reducing your overpayment (known as underlying entitlement)

If you have been told you have an overpayment, this could be reduced by a payment of underlying entitlement. If your overpayment happened because we didn’t know what your circumstances were, and you could later provide the true information for the period the overpayment covered and you would have actually been entitled to some benefit/support. We can reduce your overpayment with the money you would have been entitled to.

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 benefit/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/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 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, then you will need to contact the overpayments section to arrange to pay by instalments. 

You can pay the overpayments by

  • Debit card – telephone 01925 442196 (local rate)
  • Automated payment system – telephone 0845 0232560 (local rate) available 24hrs
  • Online – www.warrington.gov.uk/pay and follow the links.
  • Allpay – you can pay using the invoice sent to you at any post office or outlet displaying the ‘paypoint’ logo.
  • Cheque – made payable to Warrington Borough Council.  Please write your invoice number on the back and send it to:  Overpayments section, Benefits & Exchequer Services, Warrington Borough Council, PO Box 5, 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 (local rate) 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday.