Civil Penalties in Housing Benefit

A Civil Penalty of £50 can be imposed on customers who receive an overpayment of Housing Benefit caused by either:

  •  negligently making incorrect statements, or
  •  failing without reasonable excuse to provide information or disclose changes in their circumstances

The sort of changes you need to tell the council about include:

  • increase in earnings or self-employed income
  • increase in occupational or private pensions
  • changes in entitlement to state benefits
  • an increase in savings or other assets
  • changes where a young person or child ceases to be a member of the household
  • changes affecting the residence or income of any non-dependent
  • absences from home exceeding or likely to exceed 4 weeks

This is not an exhaustive list and you should tell the council about any change in your circumstances that may lead to a reduction in the amount of Housing Benefit you are entitled to.

A civil penalty will apply where as a result of claimant error an overpayment of Housing Benefit occurs for a period wholly after 1 October 2012 (date the rules came in to effect) and where the recoverable overpayment, which results from this negligent act or failure, is above £100.

In the case of a joint claim only one penalty will apply. Either member of the couple might receive the penalty, subject to limitations. In the case of a negligent statement it will not apply to the person who did not make the statement if that person could not reasonably have been aware of the other person's negligence in making the incorrect statement.

How will the penalty be applied?

The civil penalty may be recovered from on-going benefit entitlement, by raising an invoice or by direct earnings attachments.

What if I disagree with the penalty?

If you disagree with a penalty we impose on you, you may first wish to discuss it with us to explain why you disagree. If the Council decides that there are no grounds to withdraw the penalty you can make an appeal to the Tribunal Service.