Housing Benefit Overpayments – Simple steps to resolve your overpayment issues
While much of what we hear regarding benefits is to do with them being cut across the board, there are still occasions where you may find yourself receiving more than your agreed quota from month to month. Should this be the case, the local council will at some point get in touch with you in order to rectify this – something that can often leave people in difficult financial predicaments as they are forced to pay back money they were unaware that they owed.
The important thing is to both know your rights and know the correct procedures to follow should you find yourself in this situation. These instances happen for a number of reasons, so it’s crucial to make clear exactly why you have been receiving overpayments and for how long. For example, an administrative error could have occurred at your local council, or your financial situation may have changed and subsequently caused your eligibility for benefits to alter somewhat. Either way, you won’t be automatically considered a perpetrator of fraud if you were unaware of the occurrences, so there is no reason to panic should your local authority contact you regarding this.
If they contact you in attempt to rectify the error and you don’t comply – through financial reasons or otherwise – you may be at risk from greater penalties imposed by the state. A civil penalty is sometimes issued if the overpayment has been triggered by a change you have actively made, or information you have failed to pass over to your benefit office. This is penalty will come into play if there is no reason to believe you have actively committed fraudulent activity, so is fairly common around the UK.
If you feel as though the penalty has been issued unfairly, it’s crucial you take action immediately rather than simply refusing to pay the fee – with the help of our experienced team here at Council Tax Advisors, we can help you take the next steps towards tackling this charge, so ensure you contact us if you find yourself in a situation such as this. Fraudulent activities are a different ballgame altogether, and will be dealt with by local police and court authorities in the suitable manner.
What do I do if I’ve been told my benefits have been overpaid?
You should always make sure that the benefit office has clearly outlined the reasons why you have been overpaying. Before proceeding with any kind of assessment as to why these have been made, you will need to ensure that the benefits office has provided you with legitimate reasons complete with the relevant documentations as evidence of their claim.
If you want to adopt a more direct approach, it is often worth ringing up the benefits office or visiting them in person. If you can provide them with information that proves their claim to be unfounded, then you will be able to nip the claim in the bud and avoid any further penalties that may stem from an unresolved case. If you have the evidence but they are still unsure, ask them to open a dispute so your benefits are looked into by officials and that the investigation takes into account any further support or information you may be able to provide them to prove your case.
If you are unsure how to proceed with your case of benefit overpayment, the important thing is not to panic. Here at Council Tax Advisors, we have a skilled team with years of experience in these matters on hand to ensure your issues can be resolved in a manner that suits you and your benefits office. We will work with you in order to assess their claim, and then move forward quickly so as to ensure you are not exposed to any further charges that may put your financial situation in further jeopardy.
For more information regarding how we may be able to assist you in these circumstances, or indeed any more information on benefits overpayments as a general concept, don’t hesitate to contact Council Tax Advisors today.