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Possible Housing Benefit Overpayment

Hello there, I'm hoping someone can help me because I'm scared to death at the moment. We had a letter today asking for proof of my daughter's income. She's on Universal Credit so that in itself isn't problem, but whilst looking for what was acceptable evidence, I stumbled across information that could mean we are £4000 in arrears. We first made the housing benefit claim back in 2007 when I was forced to finish work and claim ESA. My circumstances haven't changed since, but my daughter turned 25 five years ago which means that there should've been a benefit deduction of £15.85, and further reading suggests that we should've informed them of an increase of her benefits because of her being over 25. We genuinely didn't know that we needed to tell them this, since she was still claiming the same benefit (albeit with a name change). Five years of fifty-two weeks at £15.85 leave us over £4000 in debt, and I have no idea how we can pay it. I know they may offer a way to pay, but with a debt so large, I just don't know how we can avoid eviction. I'm absolutely petrified. Am I reading this situation correctly?
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  • mggftz30mggftz30 Forumite
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    Who is the letter from? The Local Authority would be aware that your daughter was over 25 as her date of birth will be recorded on their systems, so are you sure they have not be taking any deduction for her?
    If you are or have been in receipt of DLA care or PIP living then no deduction will have been applied during that time. If you do not receive either of these then yes if your daughter is over 25 and her income is less than £149 per week (or she is working less than 16 hours per week) then the lowest non dependant deduction of £15.85 will apply. 
    If you still qualify for housing benefit after the deduction then the overpayment will just be recovered from your ongoing weekly benefit. 
  • BramblingStokerBramblingStoker Forumite
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    I've just dug out letters and found that no deductions have been taken, and now I'm starting to worry that we will be prosecuted for benefit fraud, even though we had no idea. It's all over the letters we get to let them know of any changes, but to be honest, I don't think I'd have thought to inform them since she's been claiming benefits since the start of our own claim. The only change of circumstance has been her age, which with it brought the benefit increase. The biggest concern now is that the letter is addressed to my wife. I've avoided debt all my life, and now we're faced with this. It's bloody horrible!
  • BramblingStokerBramblingStoker Forumite
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    And sorry, yes, it's from the local council.
  • edited 30 March 2021 at 9:29PM
    calcotticalcotti Forumite
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    edited 30 March 2021 at 9:29PM
    If you raise the issue yourself this considerably reduces the chance of being treated as fraud. Just raise the issue and see what happens. As already advised any overpayment will be recoverable by deduction from future payments.
    Do you or your wife get a disability benefit?
    Information I post is for England unless otherwise stated. Some rules may be different in other parts of UK.
  • BramblingStokerBramblingStoker Forumite
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    calcotti said:
    If you raise the issue yourself this considerably reduces the chance of being treated as fraud. Just raise the issue and see what happens. As already advised any overpayment will be recoverable by deduction from future payments.
    I called them today to see what was going on, but I don't think I put it across very well, and the woman I spoke to said there shouldn't be a problem, but that the assessor would call me when everything was checked. On digging around, there is clearly a problem, so I'll be back onto them first thing in the morning to try and sort it out. 
  • BramblingStokerBramblingStoker Forumite
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    Sorry, I'm all over the place and I missed the question about disability benefit... no, I claim ESA.
  • edited 31 March 2021 at 6:37AM
    calcotticalcotti Forumite
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    edited 31 March 2021 at 6:37AM
    Sorry, I'm all over the place and I missed the question about disability benefit... no, I claim ESA.
    I think I added it while you were replying!

    if you have evidence that they knew your daughter lived with you and of her date of birth then arguably it is official error that there has been no deduction. If official error the overpayment would not be recoverable (unless you could reasonably be expected to know you were being overpaid).
    Information I post is for England unless otherwise stated. Some rules may be different in other parts of UK.
  • A_LertA_Lert Forumite
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    Was your rent paid directly to your landlord? If yes, there is a risk Housing Benefit or Universal Credit will recover the overpayment directly, leaving you with the huge bill to pay your landlord and the risk of eviction.

    But if the benefit was paid to you and you paid the landlord, which is normal with Universal Credit, then that rent is paid. As mentioned, the overpayment is likely to be recovered by reducing your benefits in future.
  • BramblingStokerBramblingStoker Forumite
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    calcotti said:
    Sorry, I'm all over the place and I missed the question about disability benefit... no, I claim ESA.
    I think I added it while you were replying!

    if you have evidence that they knew your daughter lived with you and of her date of birth then arguably it is official error that there has been no deduction. If official error the overpayment would not be recoverable.
    She was included in the original claim in 2007, and has been on it ever since. I'd have thought it would be up to the system to spot the deduction point, but the letters do make it clear that it is the claimant's responsibility to alert them of changes, but like I say other than the age thing, there were no changes, other than a brief time when she too switched from JSA to ESA, which we did call them about at the time to make sure that it wouldn't be a problem. We also told them when that ended and she was forced to apply for UC.. which thinking about it, were both after she turned 25. I'd like to think it was a fault their end, but I can't see them writing off £4,000.
  • BramblingStokerBramblingStoker Forumite
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    A_Lert said:
    Was your rent paid directly to your landlord? If yes, there is a risk Housing Benefit or Universal Credit will recover the overpayment directly, leaving you with the huge bill to pay your landlord and the risk of eviction.

    But if the benefit was paid to you and you paid the landlord, which is normal with Universal Credit, then that rent is paid. As mentioned, the overpayment is likely to be recovered by reducing your benefits in future.
    It's a council house, so the rent goes directly to the council. We're not claiming UC, I'm on ESA.
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