Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support 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 can you be absent from home and still receive benefit
Depending on the circumstances of your absence from home, you can receive benefit for up to 4 weeks, up to 13 weeks or up to 52 weeks.
You can receive Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support for up to four weeks if you leave the country.
You can receive benefit for up to 13 weeks away from your home if you are still in the UK and:
- On holiday
- Doing voluntary work
- Looking after a sick relative or friend
- A convicted prisoner and your time in prison, allowing for 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 you must 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 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
- 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 you must not sublet your property while you are away.
What happens if you are 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.
If you know you are going to be away from home
You must tell us straight away. To ensure we have all the information we need, 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 sublet your property
- 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.
What if your circumstances change while you are away
You must tell us straight away. If you don’t tell us then your benefit may be suspended or stopped and you might be overpaid.
What 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 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 pay rent for a notice period.