New campaign launched to cut down on benefits overpayments

Assistant Benefits Manager, Julie Drew with Councillor Mike Harrison, Executive Member for Resources

Posted on: 20 April 2016

A new campaign has been launched to help reduce the amount of benefits being overpaid in North Devon.

North Devon Council is reminding local people who claim Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support to report any changes in circumstances, as it could affect their benefits.

Last year (2014/15), local people in the district claimed over £700,000 more housing benefit than they were entitled to, because they failed to tell the council about changes in their circumstances. Over-payments have to be paid back to ensure the council is not financially disadvantaged, however this can lead to financial hardship and worry for benefit claimants. It also costs the council time and money to chase up.

New leaflets and forms were recently sent to all Housing Benefit claimants with their annual award letters. The council is also using bin lorries and a poster campaign to push the message “when life changes, your benefits change too”.

Executive Member for Resources, Councillor Mike Harrison, says: “So many things can affect your benefits – moving house, having a baby, pension changes, people moving into or out of your home to name just a few. Changes can mean that your benefits go up as well as down. Please let us know as soon as something changes so we can adjust your payments. It can be very worrying to find out you have been overpaid and have to pay that money back. It’s much better for everyone if we can get your benefits right, from the start.”

Changes in circumstances which can affect housing benefit and council tax support payments include:

Income

  • an increase/decrease in earnings, pension, tax credits, savings or any other state benefits
  • if you stop receiving any other benefits or allowances such as Jobseekers Allowance or Income Support
  • if you start receiving any other benefits or allowances

Accommodation changes

  • if you change your accommodation
  • if your rent changes
  • if you start to share with someone

Household details

  • if your children leave school, college or university
  • if you or your partner are away from home for more than four weeks
  • if you have an addition to your family
  • if someone leaves your household
  • if there are any changes to your childcare costs.

For more information and to notify the council of your changes online go to www.northdevon.gov.uk/benefits. You must also include any evidence of your change in circumstances.

Alternatively, call the council on 01271 388877 or pick up a leaflet and form in any of the council offices at Lynton House in Barnstaple, The Ilfracombe Centre or the Amory Centre, South Molton.

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