Housing Benefit overpayments


UPDATE: 31 October 2023

Due to a system issue, we are currently unable to take any payments for some of our services online and in person

We continue to urgently investigate this issue and are working to resolve it as soon as we can. We will update this page as soon as this service becomes available again. Please accept our sincere apologies for any inconvenience caused.

An overpayment is where you have been paid more Housing Benefit than you are entitled to.

An example of this would be if you had delayed in telling us that your earnings had increased and a reassessment meant you were entitled to a lower amount of benefit. The excess benefit we paid you between your pay increase and our reassessment would be an overpayment, and you would need to pay that money back.

If you have been overpaid we will send you a letter. This letter will tell you:

  • What caused the overpayment
  • The dates and the amount of the overpayment
  • How the overpayment was calculated
  • What to do if you disagree with the overpayment
  • How to make a payment.

Please do not ignore any letters we send to you about an overpayment, as debts will not go away. If we have to take further action to recover the debt through the courts the amount you owe will increase.

Contact us: overpayments@epsom-ewell.gov.uk

What if I don’t agree with the overpayment?

If you do not agree with the decision or calculation which resulted in the overpayment you have the following options available to you:

  • If you want to know more about how we made our decision and what information we used, you can ask for a statement of reasons
  • If you have new or alternative information you want us to consider, you should ask us for a reconsideration of our original decision to take account of that information
  • If you have no further information or evidence to provide but you think the decision is wrong, you may submit a written appeal. You should clearly detail what part of the decision you think is wrong and why.

Any request for a statement of reasons, reconsideration or appeal must be made within one month of the date you were notified of the overpayment.

What if the overpayment wasn’t my fault?

Even if the overpayment wasn’t your fault you may still be required to repay the money; for example if we could reasonably expect you to know you were being overpaid.

It is important that you read all your notification letters from us and tell us straight away if any information is incorrect in order to avoid being overpaid.

How will you recover the overpayment?

If you are still entitled to Housing Benefit, we will usually recover the debt using one or both of the following methods:

  • Deduction from your ongoing Housing Benefit at a set amount each week. You will need to pay (extra) rent to your landlord/rent account to make up the shortfall due to those deductions
  • Deductions from Housing Benefit owed to you for a past period.

If you are no longer entitled to Housing Benefit we will send you an invoice for the outstanding debt.  You will have 28 days to arrange payment. If you cannot afford to repay the invoice in full you may be able to make a repayment arrangement, to do this you should complete a financial statement and contact us.

If you do not pay your invoice or make an acceptable repayment arrangement, we may take any or all of the following steps:

  • Take deductions from certain Department for Work and Pensions benefits you might receive
  • Take deductions from Housing Benefits you might receive from another council
  • Contact your employer to arrange for deductions to be made from your earnings through a Direct Earnings Attachment
  • Pass your debt to a debt collection agency to collect this money on our behalf
  • Seek a court order through the County Court (this may negatively affect your ability to obtain credit in future).

It is important you communicate and co-operate with us. Please do not just ignore our letters as the debt will not go away. If we do have to take further recovery action the amount you owe will increase.

What if I miss a payment as part of my arrangement?

If you are going to miss a payment due to financial difficulties you should contact us straight away.

If you miss a payment without our agreement, or if your payment is late or short, you will be sent an Arrangement Warning.

The Arrangement Warning will advise you that you have missed a payment. You will be given seven days to catch up with your arrangement before the arrangement is terminated.

If your arrangement is terminated, your full outstanding balance will become due and we may take further recovery action.

What is a Direct Earnings Attachment?

A Direct Earnings Attachment allows us to recover the money owed to us by asking your employer to make deductions from your earnings and to pay those deductions to us.

The law allows us to do this without applying to a Civil Court.

Your employer is legally bound to comply if requested to do so. 

The amount your employer will take each time you are paid will depend on the amount of your earnings and could be up to 40% of your net earnings.

Your employer may also charge you an administration fee. This will not exceed £1 for each payment deducted from your earnings.

What if I don’t want you to contact my employer?

In order to avoid us taking further recovery action, such as contacting your employer for a Direct Earnings Attachment, you should make sure that you are repaying your debt.

If you have a repayment arrangement you must keep up to date with your repayments.

We may review your repayment arrangement at various intervals, to check that you are repaying as much as you can reasonably afford toward your debt so that it is cleared as quickly as possible.

If you encounter difficulties you should contact us straight away.

How can I make a payment?

You will need your invoice number to make a payment.

You can pay:

  • By Direct Debit - please contact 01372 732271
  • By using our online payment form found at the top of this page
  • By phone using our automated telephone service: 01372 732729
  • By standing order
  • Via e-banking:
Account name Epsom & Ewell Borough Council
Account number 17185998
Sort code 60-08-01
Reference Please quote your invoice number

What should I do if I am having financial difficulties?

If repayment of your overpayment is causing you financial difficulty you should complete a financial statement and contact us.

For free, impartial debt advice the following agencies may be able to help: