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Overpayments under the Universal Credit system - Civil penalties for benefit overpayments

Read our guide to overpayments under the Universal Credit system and what to do about them.

Civil penalties for benefit overpayments

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have the power to impose a fixed rate civil penalty on some claimants who have been overpaid a social security benefit.

The civil penalty is £50. It will be added to the total amount of the overpayment and will be recovered by the same method. For each overpayment, only one civil penalty can be applied.

When can a civil penalty be applied?

For a civil penalty to apply, the overpayment must:

  • have happened after 1 October 2012, and

  • be an amount of £65.01 or more, and

  • be recoverable.

The overpayment of benefit must have been caused by a person:

  • making an incorrect statement, or

  • negligently giving incorrect information,and

  • that person not taking ‘reasonable steps’ to correct the error.

A civil penalty will not be applied if the DWP decides to take action under benefit fraud provisions. See our Fraud investigation guide.

Challenging a decision to give you a civil penalty

If you agree that you have been overpaid but you don’t think you should have been given a civil penalty you can challenge the decision to give you a civil penalty.

You will first have to request Mandatory Reconsideration of the decision. You have one month to request Mandatory Reconsideration. You should explain why you think you should not have been given a civil penalty. 

If the DWP do not change their decision, you can appeal to an Independent Tribunal. You only have one month from the date of the DWP’s decision on your request for Mandatory Reconsideration to request an appeal. 

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