If you do not pay back the money
How we recover overpayments
We can recover the overpayment from the benefit claimant, someone acting on behalf of the claimant or whoever received the benefit payment (for example, your landlord).
Overpayments are not usually recovered from landlords unless they received the payment and they could have been expected to know they were being overpaid.
For example, if you move and we have paid your landlord direct, we would usually bill the landlord for the overpayment. If the overpayment was caused by a change in your circumstances, such as starting work, we would usually ask you to repay the overpayment.
We will look at each case on an individual basis and if we decide to recover the overpayment from you, you can appeal against this decision
If you can not pay in full
An arrangement can be made on the amount you owe. To do this complete our Income and Expenditure form.
You can also make your proposal for payment by contacting the Debt Management Team. We will consider your proposal and put an arrangement in place.
If you do not make an arrangement to pay
We have the following powers to collect an outstanding debt:
- Attachment to ongoing entitlement: If you are still eligible to receive Housing Benefit we can make deductions from your weekly entitlement. This method can be used even if you have moved from our area and claim Housing Benefit from another council.
- Attachment to benefit: We can apply to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to make deductions from some state benefits.
- Direct earnings attachment: The Council can instruct your employer to deduct from your wages. The amount of deduction taken is fixed by law.
- Collection agents: Your account could be passed to one of our collection agents to recover the debt
- County Court Judgement: The Council could apply to the courts for County Court Judgement, once granted we could enforce the judgement in the following ways:
- Attachment Of Earning (AOE): The court will order your employer to deduct an amount from your wages until the debt is cleared.
- County Court Bailiffs: The court can send a Bailiff to your address to take control of goods up to the outstanding amount owed.
- Third party debt order: The court can make third party debt order which could mean an amount being taken straight from your bank account to make payment to the amount outstanding.
- High Court Enforcement: If you owe above £600 then the Council could have the judgement transferred to the High Court and instruct High Court Enforcement Officers to take control of goods to the amount of the debt and any costs associated with it.
- Charging order: If the amount you owe is over £1,000 and you own a property a charge could be made against the property. If all other avenues of recovery have been taken then the Council could commence order for sale proceedings to force the sale of the property to repay the debt. If you were to sell the property then proceeds from the sale would have to be paid to the clear the outstanding charge and costs associated with it.
- Bankruptcy: If you owe over £5,000 we have the power to make you Bankrupt if you fail to pay your arrears.
If you are unable to make an arrangement to pay
You need to contact the Debt Management Team on 0300 303 014 and speak to them about your situation. If it no arrangement can be made due to financial hardship then you will need to seek independent advice.
Where to get help
You can expert advice and support with debt and money issues from the local Citizen’s advice .
Benefits , Municipal Offices, Town Hall Square, Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire, DN31 1HU
Telephone: 0300 3030164 option 3
Telephone opening times: Monday to Friday 9am to 4:30pm, except bank holidays