Council owed £7m in overpaid benefits

COUNCIL chiefs are chasing more than £7m in overpaid benefits from last year, figures show.

At the end of 2014/15 Kirklees was owed £7.1m – up 8.1 per cent from £6.6m the previous year. A Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) report showed the authority collected only £2.5m of that.

Overpayment can come from benefit changes such as the under-occupancy charge, which critics call the ‘bedroom tax’, and the new Universal Credit. Some is also down to fraud and Kirklees sent 40 cases for prosecution, of which 30 were successful.

Some 13,000 households in Kirklees are being pursued for some type of housing-related benefit overpayment. Recovery can include court judgements, voluntary agreements and making deductions from earnings.

A council spokeswoman said: “The DWP send us regular and up-to-date information about changes in welfare benefit payments. “The council has also undertaken more benefit reviews over the past 12 months to check people’s circumstances.

“All this helps to ensure correct housing benefit payments are being made to claimants and increases the amount of overpayments identified. Overall we expect to collect more benefit overpayments this financial year than in previous years.”

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