Child Benefit and Guardian’s Allowance: Overpayments
Overpayments usually happen when there is a change of circumstances but the Child Benefit (or Guardian’s Allowance) payments haven't been adjusted to match.
Where there is an overpayment, the Child Benefit Office will send out a letter explaining that Child Benefit (or GA) has been overpaid, by how much, why and whether the claimant has to pay back the overpayment. There should also be a separate letter which explains how to pay the money back.
Anyone who thinks they have been overpaid Child Benefit or GA but hasn’t received a letter should contact the Child Benefit Office to check.
If someone is overpaid Child Benefit (ChB) or Guardian’s Allowance (GA) and it is as a result of either misrepresentation or the failure to disclose information by the claimant, whether fraudulently or not, HMRC can recover the overpayment.
How to pay back overpayments
Usually, claimants are asked to pay back the money in a one-off lump sum, with large debts, there is the option to ask for a ‘Time to pay’ arrangement spread over a period of time.
However, since June 2012, there was a correction to the policy and the Child Benefit Office can now also let claimants repay overpayments directly from ongoing awards. When ChB and GA were transferred to HMRC, the provision to recover an overpayment of Child Benefit or Guardian’s Allowance from an ongoing award of one of these benefits was inadvertently lost. The provision in section 107 of the Welfare Reform Act 2012 re-enables overpayments of Child Benefit and/or Guardian’s Allowance to be recovered from future payments of these benefits.
Process for recovery of Child Benefit and Guardian’s Allowance overpayments from an ongoing award
- Claimant is issued with a letter, advising the overpayment, the repayment options and who to contact for further advice.
- If the claimant doesn’t contact HMRC after six weeks, HMRC will send them a reminder.
- If the claimant doesn’t contact HMRC after the reminder, those with an ongoing award will be advised that unless they contact HMRC within 28 days their overpayment of ChB and/or GA will be recovered from any future payments of ChB due and that they will not receive any payments until it is fully recovered.
Any letters sent will have a contact number for the claimant to ring to discuss the repayment options, including whether they will be put into financial hardship because of the amount they are being asked to repay by deductions.
More information about overpayments of Child Benefit and Guardian’s Allowance can be found on the GOV.UK website.
Information about how to appeal can be found in our appeals section.
Updated 11 May 2015
Last reviewed 9 June 2016