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Benefits Overpayment - Council tax support overpayments

Guide to Benefits Overpayments, what they are, why they happen and what you should do if you have been overpaid

Council tax support overpayments

The rules about overpayments of Council Tax Support are different depending on if you live in England, Scotland or Wales. Your Council might call it a ‘reversal’ instead of an overpayment. Your Council might use the name 'Council Tax Reduction' instead of 'Council Tax Support'

England

An overpayment of Council Tax Reduction will be treated as Council Tax Arrears.  Councils have a lot of powers to recover Council Tax Arrears. You should speak to an adviser both about challenging the decision, and about dealing with the debt that the overpayment has created.


If you are told by a council in England that you have received too much Council Tax Support, you should check whether you think this is right. You can ask for an explanation of the decision from the Council. 


If you do not agree that you did receive too much Council Tax Support, you can challenge the decision. 


First you have to ask for the Council to review the decision. You need to do this within one month of receiving the decision. You should explain why you think the council has made a mistake about how much Council Tax Support you should have received.


If the Council reviews the decision and you still don’t agree with their decision, you can appeal to the Valuations Tribunal. The Valuations Tribunal is independent of your Council.


There is a deadline for appealing to the Valuations Tribunal. You should appeal within 2 months of receiving the Council’s decision on your request for review. If the Council has not responded to your request for review after two months you can appeal straight to the Valuations Tribunal. You can’t usually appeal if it is more than four months since you asked for a review. These  time limits can sometimes be changed. If this applies to you, get in touch with the Valuations Tribunal to see if they can change the deadline.

If you agree that you were paid more Council Tax Support than you should have been entitled to, but you don’t think you should have to pay it back you cannot appeal to the Valuations Tribunal.

If it is the Council’s fault you were paid too much Council Tax Support (for example, if you told them about a change of circumstances, but they failed to apply it to your claim; or if the Council made a mistake when calculating your Council Tax Support) you have two choices:

  • You can ask the Council for a discretionary payment to cover the amount you owe. If they refuse this, you can appeal this decision to an independent tribunal. You should get advice about doing this.
  • You can complain to the Council about their failure to handle your case properly. If you are unhappy with their response to your complaint you can take your complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman. You can’t go to the Local Government Ombudsman until you have gone through all the stages of your Council’s complaints process.

 

Scotland

An overpayment of Council Tax Reduction will be treated as Council Tax Arrears.  Councils have a lot of powers to recover Council Tax Arrears. You should speak to an adviser both about challenging the decision, and about dealing with the debt that the overpayment has created.

If you are told by a council in Scotland that you have received too much Council Tax Support, you should check whether you think this is right. You can ask for an explanation of the decision from the Council. 


If you do not agree that you did receive too much Council Tax Support, you can challenge the decision.


First you have to ask for the Council to review the decision. You need to do this within two months of receiving the decision. You should explain why you think the council has made a mistake about how much Council Tax Support you should have received.


If the Council reviews the decision and you still don’t agree with their decision, you can appeal to the Council Tax Reduction Review Panel. The Council Tax Reduction Review Panel is independent of your Council.


There is a deadline to appeal to the Council Tax Reduction Review Panel. You have to apply within 42 days (6 weeks) of receiving the Council’s decision on your request for review. If the Council still hasn’t responded to your request for review after 2 months you can appeal straight to the Council Tax Reduction Review Panel.


If you have received more Council Tax Reduction than you were entitled to, but you think it is the Council’s fault this happened then the Council won’t be able to ask you to pay it back. This will only apply if:

  • It was caused by ‘official error’ (this means an error by the local authority, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) or HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)), and
  • You did not contribute to the error, and
  • You could not reasonably have been expected to know that you were being overpaid.

If the Council is asking you to pay back a Council Tax Reduction Overpayment, but you think it was caused by an official error, you can ask the Council to review the decision to recover it. You need to ask them to review it within two months of their decision. If they still say that they can recover it you can appeal to the Council Tax Reduction Review Panel. You need to appeal to the Council Tax Reduction Review Panel within six weeks of the Council's decision on your review.

Wales

An overpayment of Council Tax Reduction will be treated as Council Tax Arrears.  Councils have a lot of powers to recover Council Tax Arrears. You should speak to an adviser both about challenging the decision, and about dealing with the debt that the overpayment has created.

If you are told by a council in Wales that you have received too much Council Tax Support, you should check whether you think this is right. You can ask for an explanation of the decision from the Council. 


If you do not agree that you did receive too much Council Tax Support, you can challenge the decision.

First you have to ask for the Council to review the decision. You need to do this within one month of receiving the decision. You should explain why you think the council has made a mistake about how much Council Tax Support you should have received.


If the Council reviews the decision and you still don’t agree with their decision, you can appeal to the Valuation Tribunal.  The Valuation Tribunal is independent of your Council.


There is a deadline for appealing to the Valuation Tribunal. You should appeal within 2 months of receiving the Council’s decision on your request for review. If the Council has not responded to your request for review after two months you can appeal straight to the Valuations Tribunal. You can’t usually appeal if it is more than four months since you asked for a review. These time limits can sometimes be changed. If this applies to you, get in touch with the Valuations Tribunal to see if they can change the deadline.

If you agree that you were paid more Council Tax Support than you should have been entitled to, but you don’t think you should have to pay it back you cannot appeal to the Valuation Tribunal.


If it is the Council’s fault you were paid too much Council Tax Support (for example, if you told them about a change of circumstances, but they failed to apply it to your claim; or if the Council made a mistake when first calculating your Council Tax Support) you have two choices:

  • You can ask the Council for a discretionary payment to cover the amount you owe. If they refuse this, you can sometimes appeal this decision to an independent tribunal. You should get advice on this.
  • You can complain to the Council about their failure to handle your case properly. If you are unhappy with their response to your complaint you can take your complaint to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales. You shouldn’t go to the Ombudsman until you have gone through all the stages of your Council’s complaints process.


 

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