Benefit overpayments

If you get benefit that you are not entitled to, it is called an overpayment. Some reasons for an overpayment are:

  • you have given us wrong information
  • you haven’t told us about a change straight away
  • you haven’t told us something we needed to know
  • we have been too slow to act on something you told us

Most benefit overpayments must be repaid unless the overpayment was caused by official error and you could not reasonably have known you were being overpaid.

You can re-pay an overpayment via our online payments page. You will need an invoice number. Or to pay by phone see 'send an invoice' further down this page.

How you will know if you have an overpayment

We will contact you with the full details of the overpayment, including:

  • what caused the overpayment
  • the dates and amount of the overpayment
  • what to do if you disagree with the overpayment

How we will get the money back

When we contact you about the overpayment, we will tell you how we plan to recover the overpayment. We will use one of the following options:

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Take the overpayment amount from your ongoing Benefit

We will take a fixed amount from each Benefit payment we make to you, until you have repaid all the money. This will happen even if we pay your Benefit direct to your landlord. You will need to pay your landlord the amount due to them to cover the full rent during this time.

If you are struggling to pay your rent while we recover the overpayment, we might be able to reduce the amount we take each week so you pay the overpayment back over a longer period. To ask us to look at reducing the weekly amount, fill in the financial statement. You will need to know all of your income and outgoings.

Take the overpayment amount from benefits you get from the Department of Work and Pensions

We can ask the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to take the money you owe us out of benefits they pay you. They will write to you if they agree to do this. You will need to contact them rather than us if you aren’t happy with the deductions they decide to make. If you stop getting benefits before you have repaid all the money, we will try to make an agreement with you about clearing the balance.

Send an overpayment invoice for you to pay

If we have sent you an overpayment invoice, you can pay either online or over the phone.

If you are struggling to repay the money, we might be able to consider an arrangement amount so you pay the overpayment back over a longer period. To ask us to consider an arrangement amount, fill in the financial statement form. You will need to know all of your income and outgoings.


You can pay online by visiting our online payments page. You will need the invoice number.

By phone

You can contact our automated payment line on 0300 123 5039, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Choose ‘invoice for benefit overpayment’ from the options. You can pay using Switch, Delta, Mastercard or Visa.

Direct Earnings Attachments

If it hasn’t been possible to recover the overpayment in any of these ways, we can take the money directly out of your wages. This is called a Direct Earnings Attachment (DEA). We do not need to go to court to set up a DEA.

Before we set up a DEA, we will send you a warning letter. This gives you the chance to contact us and sort out a payment arrangement before we set up the DEA with your employer. To avoid a DEA, you must contact us within 14 days of the date of this letter.

If you don’t contact us within 14 days, we will send you a letter confirming that your employer will start taking money off your wages. There are tables on the back of the letter showing how much your employer will take off.

Once a DEA is in place, your employer is legally bound to pay us the amounts stated.  

As soon as you have paid back the overpayment, the deductions will stop. You can pay back the full overpayment at any time. If you pay the overpayment back in full, contact the Benefits team to let us know so we can stop any further deductions.

You must tell us straightaway if there are any changes to your employment.

You can find out more about DEA deductions in the GOV.UK direct earnings attachment employers guide.

We will pass your details to debt collectors if we can’t get the money back in any other way. Once a debt collector has contacted you, you must arrange payment directly with them. Don’t pay us, because the debt collector won’t know straightaway and will keep chasing you for the money.

For more detail about Benefit overpayments and the recovery process see our Overpayment policy (PDF, 549KB).

Further information, help and support

For details of organisations who can give you advice about money matters and help you apply for benefits, see Live Well - applying for welfare benefits.

To see how your benefit has been calculated you can register for an account now if you haven’t done so already.

If you require any further information - contact the benefits team.

Page last reviewed: 27 February 2024