Revision due to ignorance of material fact – parties to recovery

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    Alison Jones

    In Dec 10 a HB overpayment was created due to a change of address. At the time recovery was determined from clmt only (as nk if LL knew of move). In June 11 and after overpayment has been recovered via deductions from ongoing benefit, our Housing Needs team (who helped the clmts move)query why recovery was made from the clmt when they were in constant contact with the LL, who had served notice to quit, and the LL knew of the move on the day and collected the keys on the date of move.
    Based on this info we alter recovery to include the LL and notify them as such. We refund the deductions made to the clmt and invoice the LL.
    I am concerned we can do this without a valid reconsideration or appeal from the clmt?
    Having looked at the regs regarding revision / supersession of a decision based on ignorance of a material fact, which there was, I can’t decide if this applies when all that is happening is that the parties to recovery have changed.
    Can we alter the decision at any time for this reason? If so can you quote the relevant regs? As you can imagine the LL is non-plussed to suddenly be invoiced after all this time. :~


    The new information would enable you to revise the recoverability decision: instead of being solely recoverable from the claimant the overpaymnent would be recoverable from both claimant and landlord, since neither informed you of the move. This would by necessity require you to reconsider your decision as to whether you would actually recover the O/P and from whom.

    I personally would not have refunded the recovered amounts but I don’t think it was wrong for you to do so in these circumstances.


    I think it is very dubious – why was it ignorance of a material fact? The Council was fully aware of the facts – the Benefits Service merely failed to make enquiries of Council Officers.

    The decision to refund the claimants is fair though – you have decided that it is now unclear who should be responsible for the overpayment so the monies are being refunded until the matter is clarified.

    As mwigg indicates, where it all falls down is that you now need to issue a single decision to both parties giving them the right of appeal. Only then can you issue an invoice to the landlord ..if and when you decide to recover solely from that landlord.

    The landlord in this case should hire Derek Stainsby – he would have lots of fun with this!



    Oops I didn’t catch this part – if the Housing Needs team were in constant contact with claimant and landlord, they must have known when the claimant moved. So it would be an official error overpayment and only recoverable from whoever could have realised they were being overpaid – most likely the person who received the HB.

    You can revise the recoverability decision based on official error as well as new info so no worries there.

    Could this be a no-fault overpayment – where the payment was issued around the same time the LA became aware of the move and the LA were unable to recall it?


    Another angle on this: grounds and time limits affecting revision and supersession apply to “relevant decisions”, which are defined in para 1 of Schedule 7 to then CSP&SS Act 2007 as (a) a decision on a claim and (b) a superseding decision.

    Paragraph 13 of Schedule 5 to the Welfare Reform Act 2007 extends that definition to add a third limb (c) saying:

    [i]”a decision of a relevant authority under or by virtue of section 75 or 76 of the Administration Act that an amount of housing benefit or council tax benefit is recoverable”[/i]

    But it has never been brought into force – I just checked again and the latest commencement order fopr the 2007 Act still shows no commencement date for Schedule 5.13.

    Most odd, but in the meantime you can do what you like with an overpayment: if you believe the right decision at the time would have been that it was recoverable from the landlord as well as or instead of the claimant, you can change your mind at any time.

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