Households in Somerset could potentially be asked to pay millions worth of benefits as the government announced that they have overpaid the residents of the region.
According to the Department for Work and Pensions, almost £15m worth of housing benefits have been overpaid and are yet to be recovered.
Housing benefits are paid to the landlords of tenants struggling to give themselves shelters to stay in. These benefits can also be paid to tenants through rent reduction.
Currently, it is being replaced slowly by Universal Credit.
As a result, the government is encouraging all those who have been overpaid to contact the authorities immediately.
However, repayments are an extremely crucial issue for households as they have already invested a lot of money.
Areas Subject to Repayment
Out of all regions in the UK, North Somerset has the most benefits to repay with the staggering amount of £6.14m. The second place goes to South Somerset with £2.44m, Mendip with £2.42m, and Taunton Deane with £1.66m.
The area with the least amount of repayment is West Somerset with £698,000.
Why Benefits Have to Be Repaid
The benefits have to be paid back because, according to the government, people have overpaid housing benefits. Here are the reasons for this:
- The information given was inaccurate
- Changes in circumstances have now be reported right away.
- Inaccurate information was given during the change of circumstance.
- Mistakes were made with payments
When Overpayments Aren’t Your Fault
According to Shelter, a housing charity, overpayments do not necessarily have to be repaid in certain circumstances:
- If it was an official error
- If the payer did not expect the overpayment
In Britain, there was £2.11bn worth of housing benefits in September of 2017.
The figure increased since 2008 when there was an estimated amount of £169m unrecovered overpayments of housing benefits.