Overpayment of benefit and recovery through benefits

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A subject that I know very little about.

A friend who receives Guaranteed Pension Credit owes some Council Tax.

?The debt relates to three small balances due for 2009/10 (£344.77), 2010/11 (£261.95) & 2011/12 (£317.44). He accepts that he owes this money.

?He has a Liability Order in force for the 2009/10 debt which is being collected via a deduction from his Pension Credit.

?As for the following two years debt he has, with my help, submitted an Income & Expenditure Statement which clearly shows that there is no more than £5 a week surplus.

The council are demanding that he finds £30 a week and will not accept the £5 offered.

?Are there any grounds to tell the council to 'fly their kite' and force them to accept was is offered? Threats of legal proceedings have been made by the council if their offer is not taken up.

?Surely given that he is on a means tested benefit and that they are already having direct deductions made they can't force him to pay more out of what the State says he needs to live on?

?My own view is for him to start paying the £5 a week and to tell them politely in writing that that is what he can only afford - otherwise they should take him to court. 

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8 Replies

  • Posted

    I had overpayments 8n housing benifit and council tax i had to pay £80 a month even though i was on esa plus keep up with my new council tax bill and bedroom tax .im still paying this thank god im finished in march.you could ask dwp to take payments out each week its worth a try

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  • Posted

    Hi Les,

    Was he receiving PCGC during these years? Was he not getting CTR?

    I don't know why they have refused the £5 per week (I assume this is the Council and not a DCA?) 

    Tell him to start paying the fiver and ask the council (in writing) to reconsider his offer. If you get no joy with that then I would write to his MP.

    The Council should look at helping him by allowing him to pay what he can afford I don't understand why they are being awkward about it

    Good luck

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    • Posted

      Hi I'm presuming that as he is on pension credit he will get full HB and Council Tax, if that's the case he can't be forced to pay more than his disposable income which you say is £5, is there a branch of bridge where he lives if so ring them, if not go to cab, otherwise go to council and tell them he will see them in court they will be kinder, his biggest problem is that these are old in dealt with debts

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    • Posted

      The answer to the first two points is no and no.

      ?Going on what he was trying to live on in those years he possibly would have received some level of PC if he had known about it and claimed it. As for CTB, almost certainly he would have been due a reduction, but once again he didn't realise he could claim it.

      He genuinely thought that as he wasn't claiming any means tested benefit - he would not be allowed any CTB.

      ?Unfortunately even after offering to give the council the full details of his income for the three years which would give him some CTB - they refused to consider it as he is too late in applying for it.

      ?

      ?They refused it (I was his mouth piece so to speak) because they said that they must 'by law' have the balance cleared by the end of their financial year - 31st March 2017.

      whether that is true I don't know.What I do know is that doing nothing is not an option - not when two Liability Orders will cost him the best part of another £300 in costs.

      ?I agree that he should start making the £5 a week payment - at least that way it can be seen that he is taking responsibility for the debts.

       

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    • Posted

      I doubt that he would entertain discussing his private affairs with anyone other than a close friend (me). His family (two daughters both married), wife deceased know nothing about his predicament.

      ​It took me ages to get it out of him when I realised that he was making himself ill with worry.

      ​To see him daily you would think that he has no financial problems - always treating the grandchildren etc. what he was doing was neglecting himself.

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    • Posted

      Mmmmmm, I hate the council tax statutes of liability in that there is no time limit for them collecting unpaid CT but we can't request a backdated application for more than 3 months even when the council can see we were entitled.

      The only other thing I can think of is for him to apply for to apply for a discretionary payment for help with council tax - which I beleive all councils offer, you just have to know where to look. It may be worth having a look on the councils website. This I think is either a one off payment or for a fixed period.

      Hope this helps

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    • Posted

      Hi Les

      Your instincts are correct the Council cannot demand your friend to repay more than he can afford although they can ‘ask’.

      However, if there are liability orders in place then this matter must have already been dealt with by a court and probably your friend didn't attend.

      What you need to do now is start the £5 repayments on top of any payments he needs to pay for this year if he is not in receipt of CTB. As you suggested you should again write to the council and inform them this is all he can afford and include the Income and Expenditure statement. Make sure he signs it.

      Go on to explain that if they fail to accept this new arrangement you will be forced to refer the matter to the Local Government Ombudsman and if needed will seek a court order for them to accept the offer. Also point out they will be liable for any cost of legal action he may take.

      If they are still stubborn then follow the above in that order. The Ombudsman will need all the paperwork especially the I & E statement and the final decision to reject the offer from the Council.

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