Overpayment recovery from ongoing benefit

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    Am just interested in what other LAs are doing in this scenario:
    Customer in receipt of HB tells you of a change in their circumstances. Results in an overpayment of £50. You decide to recover this from their ongoing benefit.


    At the present time we allow a month in case of an appeal. however, we are under increasing pressure to improve our collection rates and one of the areas being looked at is how quickly we start recovery action.


    From HB Direct. Jan 2005

    “A recent Local Government Ombudsman’s report found
    a local authority to be guilty of maladministration because
    it started recovery immediately before the claimant had
    an opportunity to appeal. We feel that the reasons for
    delaying recovery one month while the appeal rights’
    period has expired is justified and will encourage any LA
    not implementing this process to be aware of the problems
    this may cause.”


    I attended an open day at an LA last year which was rated Excellent by the BFI and above standard in respect of their o/p function. The LA in question began recovery of o/p’s through ongoing benefit immediately.

    In my experience most people who have been overpaid want to get it paid and out of the way as soon as possible so that they can get their financial situatioun straight without more debt looming over them. In many cases waiting a month is not satisfactory for the claimant or the LA who obviously wish to recover in as short as time as possible.

    I have always advocated the practice of immediate recovery via OGB unless it is obviously contentious and likely to be appealed. Where an appeal is received on a case that is subject to recovery, then suspend any action until the appeal has run its course.

    How many o/p’s do we create as LA’s and how many are appealed? At some point in benefits common sense does have to prevail!


    I agree with Glayzell. Also from an admin point of view waiting a month is a nightmare – unless you have a large op team that constantly monitors every single op.

    Kevin D

    Curious that the admin of the LA appears to be the primary consideration for some LAs ahead of customer service and, on occasion, reasonableness.

    On the flip side, I have seen good arguments made for commencing immediate recovery. For example it prompts appeals in time etc (I think from recollection that jmembery has made this point in another thread on Rightsnet). If, at that point, LAs consistently and PROMPTLY suspended recovery, this would be more or less a non-issue.

    The difficulty is that LAs, as a generalisation, are abysmal at stopping recovery once a dispute has been lodged by a clmt or L/L. And it is the ongoing recovery while a dispute is unresolved that keeps this issue bubbling under.



    Indeed I did. I am not convinced that waiting the month before starting recovery is a good idea, I just accept that any LA that does not wait would be found guilty of maladministration if the claimant goes to the ombudsman.

    Interestingly, as confirmed to me in a recent e-mail from the DWP, the advice to wait one month only applies where you are recovering from ongoing benefit not where you are seeking recovery by invoice.


    [quote:1399ce2d63]the advice to wait one month only applies where you are recovering from ongoing benefit not where you are seeking recovery by invoice[/quote:1399ce2d63]

    Curious…any justification for that? A recovery is a recovery is a recovery, as Gertrude Stein almost said…

    In relation to the supposed admin difficulties of waiting one month, at least one of the big software houses (Northgate? Academy?) has a facility to hold for a month before initating recovery, I’m sure. Doesn’t that make life relatively easy?


    It is because the claimant has control over the actual money. If they don’t agree they just don’t pay.

    The DWP still expect you to put a hold on recovery if the claimant appeals against the invoice.

    Yes sx3 (Northgate) (I-world) has 3 parameters.


    Where you can delay recovery.




    I presume that you refer to sites that have SX3 Revenues and Benefits packages. We use SX3 Benefits but this has to interface with the in – house packages for debtors and rent accounts so do not have those delays (as far as I am aware and am fully expecting to blasted out of the water now!) and the only delay I know of is LLD to delay debiting a schedule payment.

    For the record we start recovery from ongoing deds straightaway and would pend recovery on receiving an appeal (unless we forget to, being mere mortals!). Our debtors are delayed by six weeks to allow an appeal to be made within the month and we have to opt for the option to debit an OP to the rent account and we don’t have a delay facility.


    Do I know what I'm doing? The jury's out on that........................


    Hi mark p
    As I understand it, the two other parameters are PA parameters just like LL_Delay so should apply to the interface process no matter what system you are interfacing to.

    The guideance I was sent by the DWP said;

    The guidance will state that recovery from ongoing HB should not commence for one month, giving the claimant time to arrange their finances, or appeal against the decision if they do not agree with it. If recovery is going to take place by invoice or via the Ctax account, there is no reason why it cannot start straight away. The reason for this is that the LA will not be physically taking any money from the claimant by adopting these recovery methods and so therefore should not cause any hardship.


    We wait until the appeal time limit has passed before commencing from ongoing HB.

    We have IBS and this allows you to set a delay via the parameters.

    Our old system didn’t have the facility to do it, so we used to recover immedaitely. Yes, this wasn’t an issue often, but we did encounter problems where we’d deducted from a payment, before the claimant had even received the notification letters informing them of our recovery intentions.


    Many thanks to those of you who voted and left comments.

    We currently instigate recovery immediately and only suspend recovery for the time it takes us to deal with any appeal against the overpayment.

    I’m on the same side as Kevin – in that I think immediate recovery prompts timely appeals.

    I asked the question simply because 1 or 2 local advice bureaus are asking us to change our procedures in light of the LGO finding one LA guilty of maladministration in recovering from OGB immediately.

    I feel certain I can now still justify why we do this.


    as an authority we recover our HB overpayments 28 days after creation. The HB overpayment is held on the system automatically and our central admin team run a report for all overpayments over 28 days, not actioned and this is issued to the benefit officers who then set the sched recovery.

    This has worked for us for the past few years, giving the clmt a month from the date the original overpayment letters are issued to appeal prior to any overpayment recovery.


    I’d be interested to see if the decision to wait or not has any effect on recovery rates?

    Personally I’m an advocate of waiting (although I agree that often people only think to appeal once recovery starts) but I have spoken to others who feel that this would have an adverse effect on our performance

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