Northumberland County Council > Housing > Housing benefit > Housing benefit - overpayments

Housing benefit - overpayments

Housing Benefit overpayment is an amount of Benefit that has been paid, but for which there was no entitlement under the Benefit Regulations.

What is an overpayment?

An overpayment is an amount of Benefit that has been paid, but for which there was no entitlement under the Benefit Regulations.

There are a number of ways that you can be paid too much benefit.  The main causes are:

  • Not telling us about changes to your circumstances quickly;
  • Mistakes or delays in processing your claims;
  • Fraudulent claims.

A fraudulent overpayment may occur when a person has deliberately provided a false statement or document, or has deliberately failed to report a change of circumstances with the intention of obtaining or retaining Benefit.


How do you recover the overpayment?

Recovery of an overpayment will not prejudice any criminal proceedings that may be taken by the Council in respect of fraudulent overpayments.

An overpayment is recoverable from either the person who caused the overpayment, or the person who received the overpayment.

  • If the tenant is currently receiving housing benefit, the overpayment will be recovered from future benefit payments by a weekly deduction.
  • If payments are made direct to the landlord, the tenant's reduced entitlement will be reflected by the amount of the benefit payment that is issued every 4 weeks.
    The tenant is responsible for paying any rent arrears that occur as a result of the reduced amount paid to the landlord.
  • If the tenant is not currently receiving housing benefit, the overpayment may be recovered from other benefits or an invoice for payment may be issued.
  • If the Council has decided to recover an overpayment from a landlord it will issue an invoice or make deductions from other tenants' benefit paid to that landlord. The amount of these deductions should not be treated as rent arrears for those tenants, and the landlord must not try to recover the shortfall from them.
  • If the person liable to repay the overpayment is working, the Council can instruct their employer to deduct a percentage of net earnings each week or month until the housing benefit overpayment has been fully repaid.


How do I pay my invoice?

If you have received an invoice for overpaid Housing Benefit and you wish to pay back the full amount, or if you have made an arrangement with us to repay an invoice you can make payment in a number of ways:

  • In person
    Please take your bar-coded bill with you to any Northumberland County Council customer information centre. 

    To find your nearest customer information centre click here

    Our payment machines accept cash, debit and credit cards.  Cheques can be left in the cheque deposit boxes at each office.

  • At any POST OFFICE or PAYPOINT outlet
    Please take your bill to any Post Office or PayPoint outlet.  The bar code on the front of your bill will be used to process your payment.  You will be given a receipt for the payment.  There is no fee for this service.

  • By post
    Please make your cheque or postal order payable to Northumberland County Council.  These must be sent to the Income Section, Northumberland County Council, County Hall, Morpeth, NE61 2EF.  Please ensure your invoice number is on the back of the cheque or postal order.

  • By telephone
    Call 0845 600 6400 and pay by credit or debit card on our automated telephone service – available 24 hours per day, 7 days a week.

  • Internet payment
    Pay by credit or debit card by clicking here.

  • Standing order
    You can either request a standing order or set up your own via online banking.  You must quote the following:

    sort code: 08-90-06
    account number: 61603530

    You must also quote your invoice number as your reference.

What can I do if I disagree with the overpayment?

  • The claimant can ask for a review of a decision to calculate an overpayment. Any such request should be made within 1 month of the decision notice.
  • A landlord can request a review within one month of the decision notice where recovery is being sought from him personally; that is where an invoice for payment has been issued to him, or a deduction is being made from the benefit he receives for one of his tenants in order to recover an overpayment owed by the landlord in respect of another tenant.

Where an invoice addressed to a landlord remains unpaid, or an agreed arrangement to repay the debt over time is not being maintained, the Council may take action in the County Court.

If a landlord habitually fails to repay overpayments that are recoverable from him, the Council can decide that the landlord is not a 'fit and proper person' under Benefit Regulations, and can refuse to make direct benefit payments to that landlord.


Contact Details

For further information or specific help with information on this page, please contact us:

Benefits SectionIRRV
Northumberland County Council
Wansbeck Square
NE63 9XL

Tel No 0845 6006400


The council now offers nine local area code telephone numbers for customers to use when calling the central contact centre.  For more details about the numbers, along with frequently asked questions, please click here.

Fax No 01670 620098



Language Services

If you would like any benefit document in a different format, or if you need any help with language or translations please telephone 0845 6006400 and we will do all we can to help.

You may also wish to use the facilities available on all of our web pages including page translation, accessibility and text size options.  Please see the links at the top of each web page.


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