How is an overpayment recovered?
A recoverable overpayment may be recovered by:
Deduction from your on-going benefit
From arrears of another benefit due to you
Recovery through the courts.
If you are receiving benefits, any overpayment will usually be recovered by a direct deduction from these. Overpayments can be recovered from most benefits you may be getting.
There is a maximum rate of deduction from:
For 2015/16, this is £11.10 a week, or £18.50 where the overpayment was due to fraud or you have agreed to a benefit penalty. See our Fraud Investigations guide.
There is no maximum rate of recovery from other benefits, but you can always try to negotiate a lower rate if the amount the Department of Work and Pensions ask for is too high.
If the benefits office is not able to recover the overpayment from your on-going benefits, you will be asked to repay the amount in full, or to make an alternative repayment arrangement.
If you do not repay, you may face court action. This must usually begin within six years after the date of the recovery decision.
If you are threatened with court action, you should seek advice from a benefits adviser or debt adviser as a matter of urgency.
What if I can't afford to repay?
You would not normally be expected to make repayments if this would leave you without enough money to meet your basic living costs. You would usually need to provide a financial statement to show that you cannot afford to repay.
Even if the benefit office agrees not to recover for the time being, they may contact you again or start recovering from your benefit at a later date.
If you have been overpaid a benefit and can’t repay, you should seek advice from a benefits adviser as soon as possible.