Over-payments

An over-payment is where you have been paid more Benefit than you are entitled to.

All over-payments can be recovered by the Benefits Service except the following:

  • Over-payments that are caused by an 'official error' made by the Council,  the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) or Her Majesty's Revenues and Customs
  • You could not reasonably have known that you were being overpaid

How will you know if you have been overpaid?

The Benefits Service will write and tell you.

The letter will give you full details of the overpayment, including:

  • What caused the overpayment
  • Dates of the overpayment
  • How much the overpayment is
  • If you are going to be asked to pay it back, and how this will be done
  • What you should do if you disagree with the overpayment

Why do over-payments happen?

Over-payments can happen because you have not told the Benefits Service about a change in your circumstances

Do not rely on the Department of Work and Pensions or your landlord to inform the Benefits Service about changes.

Recovering over-payments

The method used to recover over-payments depends on whether it is an overpayment of Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit, and if you rent a property off the Council or a private landlord/Housing Association.

Housing Benefit

For Oldham Boroughwide Housing tenants, if your rent account is in credit, we may take the overpayment out of the credit, otherwise a bill may be sent to you for you to pay the money back.

If you rent from a private landlord/Housing Association and are still receiving Housing Benefit, we may reduce this each week by the amount shown on your letter.

We may also take an overpayment out of other Housing Benefit we owe you.

Your landlord may ask you to make up any difference if we pay him or her direct.

If you feel that the amount we are reducing your Housing Benefit by is causing you difficulties you can request the Benefits Service to change the amount you pay back each week. Please contact the Housing Benefit Overpayment team on 0161 770 3944

If you stop receiving Housing Benefit, we will send you a bill for the amount you owe. If you are unable to repay this in full we may be able to arrange for you to pay by instalments. Please see below for ways you can pay.

If we've paid your benefit to your landlord, we may ask your landlord to repay. But if the landlord did not know that you were being overpaid, we're more likely to ask you to repay it instead

We can claim from the estate of a deceased person.

Council Tax Benefit

Council Tax Benefit over-payments are recovered directly from your Council Tax account, and an amended Council Tax bill is sent to you.

To discuss payment issues regarding your Council Tax please contact the Council Tax Team.

Can over-payments be reduced?

The amount of the overpayment may be able to be reduced if you are still entitled to some benefit for the period of the overpayment. This is called awarding "Underlying Entitlement" this is not an award of benefit, but a calculation of what you would have been entitled to had your benefit been assessed on the correct information.

In other words, the amount you will have to pay back is reduced because the actual overpayment is the difference between the amount of benefit you actually received less any amount that, on review, it is decided you are entitled to based on your new circumstances.

For example, you receive an increase in your income, but forget to tell us. When we re-assess your claim, we include the increased income from the date that it changed, and you are notified how much benefit you have been overpaid.

In this example you have already had your underlying entitlement calculated, because we know what your circumstances were for this period and are therefore able to calculate the underlying entitlement automatically. However there are times when we don’t know what your circumstances were. We will therefore contact you asking you to provide details of your “income” for the period concerned in order that we may calculate the “underlying entitlement” and hopefully reduce your overpayment.

Please remember if your receive such a request for information relating to a previous period it is important that you provide this information within a month of our request – it could reduce your overpayment.

If you think you may be entitled to Underlying Entitlement you should contact the Benefit Service.

Ways to pay

If you pay your rent to First Choice Homes, contact them on 0800 0852627, or by email fcho.rents@oldham.gov.uk.

If you live in a Oldham Boroughwide Housing property and it is managed by Housing 21, contact them on 03456 044447, or by email oldhamenquiries@housing21.co.uk.

For any other bill you can pay by any of the following options:

Phone

Call the 24 hour hotline 0161 770 6611 and select option 2 to speak to an operator.

Please have your account details ready before making the call.

Payments of £1.99 or less cannot be made over the phone.

Accepted debit  and credit cards:

  • Maestro
  • Visa Debit
  • Visa Electron
  • Mastercard
  • Visa
  • American Express

You cannot pay monthly instalments by credit card.

At the Post Office (by cheque)

Take your bill to the Post Office (the bill has a barcode on it that the Post Office will need to see).

No fee will be charged.

Cheques are to be made payable to 'Post Office Ltd'.

Payzone outlet or at the Post Office

Payment by cash can be made at a Payzone outlet where you see the Payzone symbol.

Payzone does not accept payment by cheque, although some outlets will accept a debit card.

Take your bill to the Payzone outlet (the bill has a barcode on it that they will need to see).

No fee will be charged.

Direct debit

If paying a Council Tax bill, this can be set up by telephone on 0161 770 6622.

If paying any other bill please contact Credit Control on 0161 770 3944 to discuss payment by Direct Debit.

We usually accept a payment arrangement on your bill.

Contact the Credit Control Section to discuss by phone on 0161 770 3944 or email creditcontrolenquiries@oldham.gov.uk.

What happens if you don't pay?

Failure to contact the Benefits Service about an overpayment may result in your overpayment being deducted from your benefits via the Department for Work and Pensions.

You may also receive a visit from a collection agency.

Ultimately legal action may commence, which will result in court costs, fees and interest being added to your bill.