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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

Debt and return pursuit: Child Benefit overpayments: pre-enforcement activity: time barred cases


The Limitation Act 1980 (and the Northern Ireland equivalent) provides that the enforcement of debts must commence within six years of the debt becoming due. Overpayments of Child Benefit and Guardian’s Allowance are included in this legislation.

Note: The Limitation Act does not apply in Scotland.

The effect of this is that enforcement of overpayments must commence before the expiry of a period of six years from the date the section 71 overpayment decision was made.

Application for an Order

Approximately 28 days before a debt becomes ‘time barred’ you should apply for an Order under CPR70.5 in the normal way, see DMBM557940.


You should not enforce a debt as above if either:

  • there is a satisfactory time to pay arrangement in place
  • the customer is bankrupt
  • there are any other reasons where you consider enforcement would not be appropriate.


(This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)