Are you owed a refund?

Published by Emma Lunn on 23 November 2018.
Last updated on 23 November 2018

Here are five refunds you could be owed – and how to claim them

When you say the word “refund”, the first thing that comes to mind might be goods that aren’t up to scratch. But there are numerous quibble-free refunds thousands of people can easily claim. Some are worth hundreds of pounds – and all it takes is a few clicks or a phone call, as you can see below.

1 Overpaid energy bills

What is the refund for?

This year’s sweltering summer means people who pay for energy using monthly direct debit may be in credit with their energy provider. With the central heating firmly turned to the off position, and cold showers a lot more appealing than hot ones, it is likely you overpaid your energy supplier.

You can check if your energy account is in credit either by logging in to your online account or by phoning your provider.

How much could it be?

It depends how much you have overpaid – it could be hundreds of pounds. It is your money and you can ask for it back at any time. The other option is to leave the money where it is in case we have another freezing winter and you need to cover higher usage over the colder months – though your cash could be earning interest in a savings account.

How to claim?

Simply ask your supplier for your money back. Some suppliers, such as Ovo Energy, allow you to apply for a refund online. Otherwise, you may need to phone your supplier. The money will usually be returned to the same bank account your payments come out of. Bear in mind that most suppliers prefer you to leave a month’s worth of credit in your account.

2 Refund of lasting power of attorney fees

What is the refund for?

A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a legal document that allows you (the ‘donor’) to nominate a trusted friend or relative (the ‘attorney’) to look after your affairs if you lose mental capacity. More than a million people who paid to register an LPA in England or Wales between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2017 were overcharged and can apply for a partial refund. The government has set up a special team to deal with these refunds.

How much could it be?

How much you’ll get depends on when you paid the fee, but it will be between £34 and £54, plus 0.5% interest on top. There are two types of LPA: finance and property, and health and welfare. If you registered for both, you can claim a refund of up to £108 plus interest.

How to claim?

It should take about 10 minutes to make a claim on the government website (Gov.uk/power-of-attorney-refund). You’ll need the donor’s UK bank account number and sort code, and a copy of the LPA. Either the donor or attorney can make a claim but the refund will be paid to the donor. Alternatively, call the refunds helpline on 0300 456 0300.

3 Marriage allowance

What is the refund for?

The government introduced the marriage allowance in 2015 , allowing some married couples (or those in a civil partnership) to get a refund on some of the tax they have paid. It applies where one person in the relationship is a basic-rate taxpayer (earning between £11,851 and £46,350) and the other a non-taxpayer (earning below £11,850).

It allows the non-tax payer to transfer 10% of their personal allowance to their husband, wife or civil partner. This can reduce the basic-rate taxpayer’s tax bill by up to £238 a year (for 2018-19).

How much could it be?

You can backdate your claim to include any tax year since 5 April 2015 in which you were eligible for the marriage allowance. Changes to the personal allowance and tax bands mean the marriage allowance was worth different amounts in different years (£212 in 2015-16, £220 in 2016-17, £230 in 2017-18, and £238 this year).

If you make a claim for all the previous years since 2015, including the current tax year, you can claim back £900.

How to claim?

You can claim the marriage allowance online at Tax.service.gov.uk/marriage-allowance-application. You will need both your national insurance numbers and IDs. You can make a claim even if your partner has since died.

4 Flight delays and compensation

What is the refund for?

EU rule 261/2004 sets out how much compensation you are entitled to if your flight is delayed or cancelled.

Your flight must have been flying either to or from an EU airport, or one in Norway, Iceland or Switzerland, and landed three or more hours later than scheduled. The delay or cancellation must be deemed the fault of the airline – such as a technical or maintenance issue or crew issues.

How much could it be?

Compensation depends on the length of the delay and flight distance. It starts from €250 (about £223) for flights less than 1,500km and goes up to €600 (£536) for flights of more than 3,500km, delayed by at least four hours. Each member of a family or group can claim, so some families could claim back thousands of pounds.

You can claim for any delayed or cancelled flights going back to 2012 when a landmark ruling by the European Court of Justice clarified passengers’ entitlement to compensation.

If your train is over two hours late, you could get 100% back on a return ticket

How to claim?

Claims should be made directly to the airline in question. You’ll need the flight number and date, the names of the passengers and the reason for the delay. Flightstats.com shows how long a flight was delayed for, while Bott & Co (Bottonline.co.uk) is a no-win-no-fee solicitor specialising in flight delay compensation, which also offers free information and template letters. Rejected claims can be escalated to the AviationADR for alternative dispute resolution service (Aviationadr.org.uk) or otherwise to the UK Civil Aviation Authority (Caa.co.uk).

5 Delayed train journeys

What is the refund for?

Delay Repay is a national scheme that railway companies use to compensate passengers for train delays and cancellations. You are entitled to compensation for any delay or cancellation that causes you to arrive 15 minutes or more behind schedule, except when delays have been caused by planned engineering works.

How much could it be?

The scheme kicks in when one leg of a journey is at least 15 minutes late. If you bought a return ticket and one leg is two or more hours late, you can get a 100% refund. Refunds are calculated pro rata for season ticket holders.

How to claim?

You need to apply for compensation online or by post within 28 days of your delayed journey. You’ll need proof of travel such as a paper ticket or Key Smartcard. If you use Oyster pay-as-you-go or contactless, you’ll need a print-out showing where you touched in and out and the cost of your journey.

Emma Lunn writes on personal finance for publications including The Guardian, The Times and The Daily/Sunday Telegraph

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I have been trying to obtain

I have been trying to obtain a rebate on a POA for 6 months with no success.

I received a reply e-mail stating that they required a copy death cert, grant of probate and bank details, to which I replied that I had already sent said documents and details.

Still no reply so have had to threaten them with escalating to higher authority.

Like most government departments, they are quick to demand what is owed to them but not so quick to pay out.