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Customers will be sent notification that will detail

the amount of recovery.

the start date of the recovery.

if Housing Benefit is paid direct to landlord/SMBC Rent Account, the

customer would have to increase their rent payments to cover this


if this would cause hardship or if they wanted to discuss the matter, then they should make contact.

If a customer stated they found the recovery rate too high, this would be discussed and consideration would be given to changing it.

Depending on the discussion and the reasons given, an income and expenditure form could be issued to allow a more informed decision to be made.

If this action were taken, recovery would be suspended for a maximum of a further two weeks to allow the additional information to be provided.  At this stage, consideration should be given to referring the case to the Corporate Debt Officer or Overpayment Officer.

If the customer is no longer in receipt of Housing Benefit an invoice will be issued for the amount owed.  If the customer cannot clear the debt in full then the customer may be offered the opportunity to pay by instalments.  If the customer cannot afford to pay what is being requested and the member of staff feels that they need more information about the customer’s financial situation before accepting their offer of payment, a financial statement will be requested.

Customers will be referred to the Corporate Debt officer or an Overpayment officer where appropriate, for example:-

When writing to advise that overpayments of Housing/Council Tax benefit have occurred and the officer is aware that the person concerned is in a vulnerable group, for example elderly or on a low income.  In this situation the customer will be advised that they can contact the Corporate Debt officer or Overpayment officer if the recovery of the overpayments will cause financial difficulties.

Members of staff will also advise of the Corporate Debt officer or Overpayment officer if it becomes apparent during a conversation about an overpayment that there are multiple debts to the Council involved.

If the customer is appealing against the overpayment decision or is asking for the debt not to be recovered, for example on hardship grounds, an invoice will be put on hold until these issues have been dealt with.  If an overpayment has started to be recovered from ongoing benefit and a customer decides to appeal the recovery of the overpayment can be stopped if the customer requests it.

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