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Direct earnings attachment

What is a Direct Earnings Attachment? (DEA)

Under Part 6 of the Social Security (Overpayments and Recovery) Regulations 2013, if you have been overpaid housing benefit and have not contacted us to discuss a repayment arrangement or offered to repay the money at an agreeable rate we can ask your employer to make direct deductions from your earnings to repay the money you owe us.

When can my council apply for a DEA?

We can contact your employer to apply for a DEA in the following circumstances.

  • If we have sent you an overpayments invoice and is remains unpaid for 28 days after the date it was issued.
  • If you have discussed the overpayment with us and we have been unable to agree on a rate of recovery.

Your employer has a duty to make deductions on our behalf. The amount deducted will depend on the net income you get each week or month from your employment.

Your employer will need to show information about these deductions on your payslip.

How long will deductions be made from my earnings?

Your employer will make deductions on our behalf until the full amount of the overpayment has been recovered.
The deductions will stop once the amount you were overpaid has been paid back in full.

We do not have to apply to a civil court to ask your employer to make these deductions. Your employer has to comply with our request if we ask.
These deductions have to be proportionate to the amount you earn. 60% of your net earnings will be protected. The maximum amount that will be deducted for repayment from your net earnings is 20%.

How much will my employer deduct from my wages?

The table below shows how much your employer will deduct based on a percentage either of your weekly or monthly income depending on how you are paid.

Weekly Earnings (£)

Monthly Earnings (£)

% of Net Earnings Deducted

Less than £100 Less than £430 Nil
£100 to £160 £430 to £690 3%
£160 to £220 £690 to £950 5%
£220 to £270 £950 to £1,160 7%
£270 to £375 £1,160 to £1,615 11%
£375 to £520 £1,615 to £2,240 15%
More than £520 More than £2,240 20%

Administrative Costs

Your employer may charge you an additional admin fee for each time a DEA is calculated. This will not exceed £1 per DEA calculation. In this case the deduction for administrative fees can be taken even if it reduces your earnings below the 60% net earnings protection.

What happens if I become unemployed or change my job?

You are required to contact us in writing within 7 days if the following happens.

  • Your current employment ends
  • You start employment somewhere else

You must include the following information when you contact us.

  • The name and address of your new employer.
  • Your wages or expected wages.
  • Where you will be working.
  • The type of job you will be doing.
  • Your employee identification number for purposes of payroll.

Guide for employees

A guide to Direct Earnings Attachments for Employers is available here.

Help and Support

If you would like some independent advice about an overpayment and overpayment recovery you can consult with independent advisors such as Citizens Advice.

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