Reply To: HB migration

Julian Hobson

got this on Thursday last – I don’t think the figures for my LA are correct however the push is interesting!

Dear colleague

Maximising Housing Benefit Debt Recovery

Following the publication of the Housing Benefit Debt Recovery (HBDR) statistics in March 2024 (covering the period April to September 2023), we wanted to highlight the importance of continuing to maximise the recovery of Housing Benefit (HB) overpayments.

As Working Age HB cases migrate to Universal Credit (UC) throughout the financial year ending (FYE) March 2025, it is critical for local authorities (LAs) to take-stock of their outstanding HB debts and ensure that all possible recovery methods are being fully utilised.

We understand that attachment to ongoing HB is a key method of recovery for LAs but as increased volumes of Working Age HB cases move to UC, this recovery method will no longer be available. Therefore, we encourage LAs to:

• ensure that appropriate maximum recovery amounts are being applied to ongoing HB cases while the cases are still in payment
• fully explore and utilise alternative recovery methods as soon as ongoing HB ceases.

For the FYE 2023, the national average percentage of recovery against total debt across Great Britain was 19%. The latest published statistics covering April to September of the FYE March 2024, show that, so far, your LA has recovered 8% against your authority’s total debt.

Annex A provides some questions and answers regarding the above figure that you may find useful. The source data used to calculate this figure can be found in the published statistics (as linked to above).

Between October and February of the FYE March 24, we held a series of HBDR workshops with LAs to share good practice and discuss recovery methods. We also learned, from LAs who attended, the many challenges faced with HBDR. Therefore, we want to continue supporting LAs in improving HB debt recovery and in in maximising their HBDR performance.

To this end, the Performance Development Team’s (PDT’s) Performance Relationship Managers and consultants will be undertaking further LA engagement surrounding HB debt in the coming weeks and months.

Ahead of any PDT engagement, if you would like to share any concerns with us regarding HBDR, please raise this with your Performance Relationship Manager or email

At the start of the FYE 2024, there was £1.7 billion outstanding in HB debt and this significant sum of money is government debt derived from taxpayer funds. Therefore, HBDR remains a high priority for the department in ensuring these funds are recovered by LAs so that they may be put back into public services.

We look forward to tackling this important area of work with you.

Yours faithfully

Jonathan Bottomer
Head of PDT