Housing Benefit overpayment Direct Earnings Attachments

What is a Direct Earnings Attachment?

Someone who works for you as been overpaid Housing Benefit. A Direct Earnings Attachment allows us to ask you to make deductions from their wages to pay this debt, providing certain conditions are met.

The amount of the deductions depends on how much your employee earns, and is a percentage of their net earnings. They also depend on whether if you are already making deductions from your employee's wags for other debts.

If your employee has an enquiry about the attachment please tell them to contact Bury Council. You do not have any discretion to refuse to pay deductions at the request of your employee. They will have been sent copies of the documents you have received.

If you willingly refuse to enforce an order, we can summons you to court and you could receive a fine.

What you need to do

  • return the slip on the order we have sent you to confirm that you are in a position to make payments, using prepaid envelope provided
  • work out what the deductions will be, using the figures below
  • start making the deductions as soon as possible after receiving the order
  • make the payments to us by the 19th day of the month following when you paid your employee - please see the order for payment methods
  • send us a payment schedule to confirm the payments you are making
  • tell the employee that the deductions are being made - we will have already written to them to let them know this will be happening

Contact us to let us know if the person:

  • is not employed by you
  • stops being employed by you

Amounts of deductions

Direct Earnings Attachment deductions
Weekly net earningsMonthly net earningsDaily net earningsDeductions
Up to £100Up to £430Up to £15No deductions
£100.01 to £160£430.01 to £690£15.01 to £233%
£160.01 to £220£690.01 to £950£23.01 to £325%
£220.01 to £270£950.01 to £1160£32.01 to £397%
£270.01 to £375£1160.01 to £1615£39.01 to £5411%
£375.01 to £520£1615.01 to £2240£54.01 to £7515%
Above £520Above £2240Above £7520%

Net earnings include:

  • bonuses
  • commission
  • overtime
  • Statutory Sick Pay
  • advances of holiday pay
  • compensation payments

Net earnings do not include

  • Income Tax
  • National Insurance
  • superannuation contributions
  • any attachment of earnings order with a higher priority
  • loan repayments
  • loans for items such as season tickets or moving house
  • redundancy payments
  • youth training allowances
  • Statutory Maternity, Paternity and Adoption Pay
  • expenses incurred in the course of employment

Irregular payments

If your employee is paid irregularly please work out how many days wages were paid during the last month, and use the net daily net earnings table to work out the deduction for that month.

Administration costs

You can make a £1 deduction per payment to cover your administration cost

Fixed payments

Sometimes an employee may arrange with us to reduce their payments below the normal deductions. If this happens, we will let you know.

Multiple orders

If you receive any of the following for an employee, they will take priority over a Direct Earnings Attachment:

  • Deduction from Earnings Order from Child Maintenance Group
  • Attachment of Earnings Order for Maintenance or Fines
  • Council Tax Attachment of Earnings Order
  • Conjoined Arrestment Order
  • Earnings Arrestment
  • Current Maintenance Arrestment
  • Student loan repayments

If your employee has more than one Direct Earnings Attachment then they should be considered in the order they were received.

Protected earnings

If we ask you to make deductions from your employee's wages, the Direct Earnings Attachment rules mean that their earnings cannot drop below 60% of their net wage. Usually this only affects employees who have other debt recovery orders in place, which take precedence over a Direct Earnings Attachment.

The Direct Earnings Attachment deduction should be reduced to make sure that your employee is left with 60% of their net earnings. This also applies when we have asked you to apply a fixed rate deduction.

If you are unable to make a deduction because your employee's earnings are below the 60% threshold we still need you to let us know on a payment schedule for each pay period.

Payment schedules

Please complete a payment schedule for each payment, or group of payments made at the same time. Copies are available in the downloads section at the bottom of this page.

If you are making payments to our bank or by cheque please ensure that you quote the reference number shown on the Direct Earnings Attachment (8 digits long starting with either '25' or '24').

If you are making a single consolidated payment for more than one employee please quote the reference 'DEA'.

If you cannot make a Direct Earning Attachment deduction because your employee's earnings are too low we still need to see a schedule to confirm that you have been unable to make a payment.


Direct Earnings Attachment orders are made under the Social Security (Overpayment and Recovery) Regulations 2013. They allow local councils to ask an employer to deduct money from a person's wages in situations where other methods of recovery have proved to be unsuccessful. A full set of these regulations can be found on the legislation.gov web site.

Contact for Benefits Service Overpayments