CTB Excess Payment following amendment of CT liability

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    Any thoughts on what classification the following Excess Payment should take are gratefully received.

    Elderly claimant’s daughter moves into property with claimant. Property is owend by HA. Tenancy agreement is amended, so that both Mother and Daughter are registered as joint tenants. HB claim is amended to take account of fact that mother is now only liable for 50% of rent. Daughter is working and does not claim benefit. Mother is in receipt of PC(Guarantee) element and continues to receive maximum benefit on her 50% share of the rent.

    Council Tax department not notified (by Benefits or claimant/daughter directly) of change in household for about 2 years, so claimant continues to receive CTB based on 100% liability. When CT records are amended, a large CTB excess payment arises.

    Should this Excess Payment be classified as LA Error (for obvious reasons!) or Technical because of the retrospective amendment to the CT liability?

    Thank you for your views.


    As there is only one Council – I cannot see how the claimant did not notify the Council about the amended liability, therefore the error is certainly down to the Local Authority. The excess benefit could only be classified as technical for any advance period. The period where the Council failed to act has to be LA Error.


    I agree with seanosul on this one, I would also add that as the error occurred due to an ommission by the LA that I would say that the overpayment was caused by official error.

    I appreciate that the claimant and daughter did not notify the Ctax section but the Benfit assessor should have notified the CTAX section of the change in liability in order to amend the CTB to the correct amount.


    I would argue that as there was no liability on which to base the award there could be no payment and therefore no true overpayent – it should therefore be classed as Technical.

    Whilst the failure of the Authority to act would normally result in an Authority Error overpayment, in this case, the change results in the removal of liability and therefore it cannot be counted as a true overpayment (same as if the Authority delayed removing liability had they moved out of the property)



    Thank you everyone for your replies.


    I am currently dealing with a case with the exact same scenario and I have to agree wholeheartedly with Mark on this.

    Why should the J/T not have to pay any Council Tax even though a mistake has been made by the benefits office


    I have to agree with Mark.

    I am sure, although can’t put my hands on it, that DWP have confirmed that ANY overpayment as a result of a reduction or ending of liability for counci ltax should be classified as technical because no subsidy is payable in respect of it.

    Julian Hobson

    In most cases where there are changes in Liability those “excess benefits” cannot be described as being caused by Official Error Reg 68(4) of the Pensioner age CTb regs refers.

    The difficulty here is that the excess is not caused by a discount or a reduction in the CT payable, it is however caused by the effect of reg 40(3) of the CTb regs.

    I think it can be “official error” for that reason. The CT libility remains the same the Maximum CTB has however changed.

    If it can be “Official error” then you need to consider whether it is recoverable.

    You say that you amended HB but didn’t amend CTB and didn’t notify CT dept of the change. In theory you couldn’t have operated reg 40(3) properly without the knowledge that they were actually J&S liable and so had no option but to process on 100%. In practise however (as now shown by the change that did occur) whether they were classed as J&S was in your control and the Excess could have been avoided by you. In my mind it has to be capable of being Official Error.

    Could your original customer (not the daughter) have been expected to realise that it was excess benefit ?

    I don’t know the answer to that, the only people that can are those with some knowledge of her, her capacity and ability to seek advice etc. She might have expected some advice from her daughter “mum I was expecting to pay 50% of CT but haven’t had a bill” but is the daughter capable of understanding the intricacies ?

    I don’t know the answer to these questions but in summary I think it is capable of being LA error unrecoverable.

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