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Social Security Case Law - Spring 2024

Summaries of recent cases on social security law and practice.

London Borough of Waltham Forest v CA [2024] UKUT (AAC)

You can read the full judgement here.



Universal Credit/Housing Benefit case.  FfT made error of law by not considering every change in earnings through a period of overpayment.


CA received Housing Benefit from 2011.  In January 2020 she commenced employment and contacted DWP to alert them of her change in circumstances.  CA states that she was advised that she was entitled to an extended payment of 4 weeks.  Unfortunately, DWP did not send this information to the local authority with a result that the local authority did not receive notification from DWP that CA’s payments of Universal Credit had been overpaid from January 2020 – March 2020.  The local authority considered that this had happened as a result of CA commencing work in January 2020 but not notifying it of this change until March 2020, and that the overpayment was recoverable.

CA appealed the local authorities’ decision to the FfT.  The FfT allowed CA’s appeal, setting aside the decision and finding that none of the overpayment of Housing Benefit was recoverable due to official error to which CA had not contributed and so should not reasonably be expected to realise an overpayment had been made.

The local authority appealed this decision.

Legal Issue

Whether Universal Credit claimants could rely on Housing Benefit Regulations when DWP fails to notify the Housing Benefit Authority the claimant has started work.

Relevant Legislation

The general rule for housing benefit overpayments is that all overpayments are recoverable.  This is subject to the exception in regulation 100 of the Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 which provides that no overpayment shall have occurred if:

  • the overpayment was caused by an official error which no relevant person caused or contributed to; and
  • no relevant person could reasonably have been expected to realise that there was an overpayment either at the time it was made or when they were notified of the payment

Regulation 88 of the 2006 Regulations – Duty to Notify changes of circumstances.  This regulation imposes a general duty on the claimant to report any change of circumstances to the authority which might affect their right to, the amount of, or the payment of, benefit.


The Upper Tribunal found that the Fft made a material error of law .  The UP stated that as CA’s earnings had changed a number of times during the period of the overpayment, the FfT was required to make a clear finding of fact in respect of each change of circumstances.  The FfT was required to make findings to enable it to determine whether the overpayments caused by CA first finding work and then receiving increases in income were the results of official error.  The Fft considered the issue of notification as a single, one off event and failed to make findings of fact.  The Judge agreed with the decision in Calderdale Council (HB) [2016] UKUT 396 (AAC) that

The UP set aside the FfT decision and remitted the appeal for re hearing before another FfT.