June 13, 2019 4.39 pm This story is over 29 months old

Lincoln council owed millions in housing benefits overpayments

The authority wrote-off £238,400 of its debt last year

The City of Lincoln Council is owed nearly £4 million in housing benefits overpayments.

The authority sits at the top of the Lincolnshire authorities, which in total are owed £16.51 million.

The council owed the least is North Kesteven District Council, with £1.49 million outstanding.

An overpayment is an amount of housing benefit that the council pays to someone when they are not entitled to it.

Members at a recent City of Lincoln Council committee meeting were told that at March 31, 2019, City of Lincoln had £3,650,044 housing benefit overpayments outstanding.

Clare Moses, shared revenue and benefits manager, pointed out, however, that the amount of money clawed back (£548,554 in Lincoln) over the past four months was higher than the debt accrued (£203,832) – the authority last year was owed £4.11million.

The authority wrote-off £238,400 of its debt at the end of the last financial year – again the highest figure in the county.

The council that wrote-off the smallest figure was South Holland with £273.02.

It follows a review of the service carried out by the Department for Work and Pensions last year, which resulted in a new team being set up to tackle the issue.

“Since we’ve had a team in place we’ve had a better view of where overpayments sit. If they are within the window they don’t just sit there outstanding and not being collected,” she said.

Overpayments can occur for a number of reasons from delays in the system, to residents failing to notify the council when there is a change in their benefits.

Authorities can recover the money in a number of ways including taking it out of future benefits such as job seekers allowance or universal credit. At worst they can go through the courts.

Here’s what’s owed to who in Lincolnshire:

  • Lincoln – £3.65m
  • ELDC – £3.17m
  • BBC – £2.76m
  • WLDC – £2.27m
  • SKDC – £1.62m
  • SHDC – £1.55m
  • NKDC – £1.49m

The unitary authorities of North and North East Lincolnshire are owed a combined £8.92million.

And here’s the amount council’s have written off:

  • Lincoln – £238,400
  • NKDC – £115,608
  • BBC – £113,017
  • WLDC – £87,498
  • SKDC – £75,200
  • ELDC – £22,818
  • SHDC – £273.02

North and North East Lincolnshire wrote-off a combined £262,588.

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