Temporary absence from home affecting your benefit claim

If you are going to be away from your home temporarily then we can continue to pay housing benefit to you whiles you are away, providing you meet certain conditions and intend to return home within a set time.

You must tell us straight away if you know you’re going to be away from home.

How long you can be absent for and still receive benefits

The length of time you can receive benefits depends on whether you’re absent outside Great Britain or not, and the reason for your absence.

Please note – Great Britain includes England, Scotland and Wales, but does not include Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.

Information we need

To ensure that we have all the information we need, please tell us:

  • the reason you will be away
  • how long you will be away
  • if you intend to return to your home
  • if you have sub-let the property, and
  • if your income or capital will change while you are away.

We will then tell you if you are entitled to benefits while you are away. In certain cases, you may have to complete a new claim form to cover your absence.

If you decide not to return

If you decide not to return to your home, you must tell us immediately. We will normally stop paying benefit from the Monday after the date that you decided not to return to your home.

Absence within Great Britain

You can receive benefit for up to 13 weeks away from your home, provided

  • you remain in Great Britain,
  • you intend to return to your home within 13 weeks, and
  • you do not sublet your property while you are away.

You can receive benefit for up to 52 weeks away from your home if you are in Great Britain, if you are:

  • in hospital
  • receiving medical treatment or medically approved convalescence
  • on a training course
  • providing medically approved care
  • caring for a child under 16 whose parent or guardian is undergoing medical treatment or medically approved care
  • in custody, on remand or bailed to another address
  • in fear of violence in your home or from a former family member; or
  • receiving temporary care in a residential care home (but not if you are there on a trial basis).

But you must intend to return to your home within 52 weeks and not sublet your property while you are away.

If you’re in residential care on a trial basis

If you go into residential care on a trial basis, you can receive benefit for up to 13 weeks for your present home, but you must:

  • intend to return to your home if the trial does not work; and
  • not sublet your property while you are away.

Absence outside Great Britain

You can receive benefits for up to four weeks if you are away from your home outside Great Britain. However, you must intend to return to your home within four weeks and cannot sublet your property while away.

If your absence is in connection with the death of a close relative, or the close relative of a child you’re responsible for, and we agree that it’s unreasonable for you to return within four weeks, we can extend this period by a further four weeks.

You can receive benefits for up to 26 weeks away from your home if you are outside Great Britain, if:

  • you are a member of the armed forces away on operations
  • you are a mariner or continental shelf worker
  • you are in hospital or a similar institution
  • you, your partner or a dependent child is undergoing medical
  • treatment, or medically approved recovery, in accommodation other than certain care homes and hospitals.