Judith and Bill’s story

Successful appeal against Council demand for refund of mistaken housing benefit overpayment from retired couple

A retired couple, Judith and Bill, came to see us because Canterbury City Council sought repayment of an alleged overpayment of housing benefit between April 2015 and April 2017 of £3700 and of council tax support of £570. CHAC helped them to appeal that they should not repay any of this on the basis that it was not a recoverable overpayment as they had not actually been overpaid, as the Council had incorrectly calculated their income by including Carers Allowance of £62.70 a week, which they hadn’t received. CHAC contacted the Payments Officer at the Council and explained this, which was checked and confirmed. Judith and Bill’s ‘overpayments’ were immediately cancelled.

An overpayment can only be claimed by the Council if (1) there has been an official error by the Council, (2) the recipient didn’t contribute to that error (for example through provision of incorrect information), and (3) the recipient did not know of the overpayment. This case took about 1 hour to resolve – it demonstrates what can be achieved with just 1 hour of staff time.
— Paul Wilkinson, manager