Benefits for people away from home
Normally, we will only pay Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support while you are living at the property.
In certain circumstances you will be entitled to claim while you are away from home. To qualify you must intend to return to the property following the absence and the property must not be sublet or re-let while you are away. You must tell us as soon as you know you are going to be away from home.
Different rules apply in different situations.
The 13-week rule
You may be able to claim Housing benefit and/or Council Tax Support while you are away from home for a period of up to 13 weeks if:
- You are on holiday and your circumstances do not change
- You are absent due to domestic reasons (for example, the illness or death of a close relative or friend)
- You are absent for religious reasons
- You are working away from home in the UK or abroad, either paid or unpaid
- You are a sentenced prisoner.*
*In this case we can only award benefit if the total absence, including any period served on remand, is likely to be less than 13 weeks. And, if you are sentenced under an intermittent custody order, and you live in the home you are claiming benefit for when you are not in prison, we will not class you as being away from home. In this case, the 13-week rule does not apply.
In all these cases, you must also:
- Not claim Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support elsewhere, and
- Intend to return to the property within 13 weeks.
If you are not sure, just check with us.
The 52-week rule
You may be able to claim benefit while you are away from home for a period of up to 52 weeks if you are:
- A patient in hospital
- Receiving medically approved care, treatment or convalescence
- Attending an approved training course
- Providing care for a child whose parent or guardian is receiving medical treatment
- A certain type of student
- In fear of violence
- A prisoner on remand.**
**If you are sentenced, you automatically fall under the 13-week rule. However, if you have already been absent for 13 weeks or more, we cannot pay you any more benefit. This means that we can only pay benefit for a total of 13 weeks once you have been sentenced.
In all the cases above, you must:
- Not claim Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support elsewhere; and
- Intend to return to the property within 52 weeks.
If you're not sure, just check with us.
Going into residential care accommodation
If you move into residential care accommodation but intend to return home, you may be entitled to benefit for up to 52 weeks.
If you go in on a trial basis, you may be entitled to benefit for up to 13 weeks. However, you must intend to return home if the accommodation does not meet your needs.
If you go in permanently, you are no longer entitled to Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support on your previous home. In certain circumstances, you might be able to continue to claim Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support for up to four weeks after you move into residential care accommodation.
Claiming benefit when away from home
If you are going away from home and want to continue claiming Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support, you must tell us as soon as possible. We will confirm your details and check to see if you qualify. Then we'll write to you with our decision.
Changes in circumstances
You must tell us straightaway if your circumstances change. It might affect how much you get, and if you don't tell us you may lose benefit. If you don't tell us about a change and we pay you too much benefit, you may have to pay it back.
Disagreeing with our decision
If you don't agree with our decision, you can ask us to look at it again. Our letters tell you what rights you have.