This part of GOV.UK is being rebuilt – find out what beta means

HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

Debt and return pursuit: Child Benefit overpayments: recovery actions: general

It is the Department’s policy that customers are expected to make payment in full, by the due date, where they have the means.

If this is not possible recovery should be made quickly and by the most cost-effective method without causing undue financial hardship.

Methods of recovery

The following are the means of recovering a Child Benefit overpayment:

  • recovery from arrears of Child Benefit due to the customer
  • withholding Child Benefit payments from an ongoing award (DMBM557510)
  • deducting an amount from Child Benefit payments from an ongoing award (DMBM557510)
  • direct payment (NDDS, electronic payments, cheques and cash).

Arrears of Child Benefit due

If arrears of benefit for any period become payable while there is an outstanding recoverable overpayment the arrears can be withheld to recover part, or all, of the overpayment.

However, Regulation 21 of the Child Benefit (Decisions and Appeals) Regulations 2003 (web) stipulates that where benefit has been suspended payments must be made once it is established that the benefit suspended is properly payable and no outstanding issues remain to be resolved about that suspended benefit. So recovery from arrears is not possible if the arrears are from suspended payment where it is later confirmed that entitlement exists.

The customer’s consent for such action is not required.

Multiple debts

If there are two or more overpayments of Child Benefit/Child Benefit (Lone Parent)/Guardian’s Allowance to be recovered, allocate payments made to the overpayment with the earliest outcome decision.

If repayment is made via the court under the terms of a court order, that repayment may only be allocated to the relevant overpayment.