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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

Debt and return pursuit: miscellaneous: overpayments of Child Benefit

Responsibility for recovery and enforcement

The initial action to recover all of Child Benefit overpayments is dealt within the Child Benefit Overpayments Section (CBOS) within the Child Benefit Office (CBO). CBOs also deal with the enforcement of overpayments in England and Wales

In Northern Ireland enforcement is by the Child Benefit recovery Unit (CBRU) and in Scotland by Dumfries Direct Taxes office.

Action by CBOS

Where an overpayment is established, customers are notified of the amount and asked for repayment. There is a statutory right of appeal which must be made within one calendar month of the date of issue of the overpayment decision notified to the customer.

If payment is not received by the end of the appeal period and the customer is in receipt of a current entitlement to child benefit, the overpayment is recovered by stopping the benefit.

If there is no current entitlement to child benefit the overpayment is recovered direct from the customer. CBOS will make (This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000) applications (This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000) (several attempts will have been made to make contact) before referring the case to the local debt management technical office for outdoor call. The form will include the customer’s details and other salient information.

Action by local office

You should follow the general guidance to be found elsewhere in this manual about making an outdoor call.

After you have made the call you should return the ‘Referral for outdoor call’ request to CBOS with your report.

Queries about recovery matters, such as the debt balance or time to pay should be directed to (This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)  

Note: for more detailed information about the recovery and enforcement of Child Benefit overpayments see DMBM557000.

Time to Pay

If Time to Pay is requested you should follow the general guidance found at DMBM800000 onwards. If the customer makes an acceptable offer you should advise that the details will be passed to CBOS who will confirm the arrangement and provide payslips.

You should not refuse any offer that appears to be acceptable. In such cases you should advise the customer that the details will be referred to CBOS to consider the request. Refer any case papers including any income and expenditure form to CBOS.


If the customer wishes to make an appeal or dispute any aspect of the overpayment (period involved and so on) they should be advised to contact the Child Benefit helpline on 0300 200 3100.

You should make an appropriate note on the papers and return them to CBOS.


Child Benefit overpayments do not attract interest.