Temporary absence from home affecting your benefit claim

Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction can continue to be paid to you when you are away from your home temporarily, but you have to meet certain conditions and you must intend to return home within a set time.

How long you can be absent for and still receive benefit

Depending on the circumstances of your absence from home, you can receive benefit for up to 13 weeks or up to 52 weeks.

You can receive benefit for up to 13 weeks away from your home, provided you remain in Great Britain, if you are:

  • on holiday;
  • doing voluntary work;
  • looking after a sick relative or friend; or
  • a convicted prisoner and your time in prison, allowing remission for good behaviour, will be less than 13 weeks;
  • any other absence, for example visiting a relative or friend.

But you must:

  • intend to return to your home within 13 weeks; and
  • not sublet your property while you are away.
If you leave Great Britain, this time is reduced to 4 weeks, although it can be extended, if reasonable, to 8 weeks if in connection with the death of a close relative.

You can receive Housing Benefit / Council Tax Reduction 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).
If you outside Great Britain for medically approved care, the maximum period is 26 weeks.

But you must:

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

What happens 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.

What you should do if you know you're going to be away from home

You must tell us straight away.

To ensure that we have all the information that 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 benefit while you are away from home. In certain cases you may have to complete a new claim form to cover your absence from home.

Changes in circumstances

As always, you must tell us straight away about any changes in circumstances that happen while you are away.

What happens 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. If you tell your landlord that you are not returning to your former home and they continue to charge you rent because you have not given them notice, we may be able to help with this.

Please contact us for more information about this.