Temporary absence from home affecting your benefit claim

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

How it works

In certain circumstances, we can continue to pay your benefits while you are away from home. To decide if we can pay you benefit while you are away from home, we need to know:

  • why you are away from your home
  • how long you will be away

If we continue to pay you benefits while you are away, we must decide how long for. Depending on the reason for the absence, this will be either 13 weeks or 52 weeks.

You must tell us straight away if you know you’re going to be away from home and won't return. You can do this by reporting a change of circumstance.

Qualifying conditions

To continue to receive Housing Benefit while you are away, you must:

  • be planning to return home
  • not relet or sublet your home while you are away
  • not be away for more than 13 weeks or 52 weeks

If you will be away for 13 weeks

This includes:

  • convicted prisoners serving a custodial sentence
  • people who are away from home doing paid or unpaid work in the United Kingdom or abroad
  • people who enter residential care on a temporary basis to find out if it would suit them on a permanent basis
  • people who are on holiday or visiting relatives away from home or abroad

If you will be away for 52 weeks

This includes:

  • prisoners remanded in custody, awaiting trial or awaiting sentence. This includes people in bail hostels
  • hospital inpatients
  • people receiving medical treatment or medically approved convalescence for themselves, a partner, or child
  • people providing medically approved care - this means care certified by a medical practitioner
  • people receiving respite care in residential care, but not a person who lives in a residential care home on a trial basis

If you're on remand you can receive Housing Benefit for up to 52 weeks from the date on which the absence started.

If you are then convicted, you will fall under the 13-week rule.

If you have a partner, we may ask your partner to claim benefit during the period of absence. Your partner can count as being liable to pay rent while the person claiming is away.

If you are on remand, released, or convicted, tell us immediately.

If you're in a residential care home

People who are in a residential care home to receive respite care. This falls under the 52-week rule.

People who go into residential care on a trial basis. This is to see whether they would like to make it their permanent home. This falls under the 13-week rule

You must tell us immediately when you are going into residential care.

If you decide to stay in residential care, you must tell us immediately. We will cancel your benefit from the Sunday following the date of your decision.

People claiming who are in hospital

Hospital inpatients fall under the 52-week rule. You must plan to return to your usual home. While you are away, do not relet or sublet your property.

People claiming who have gone abroad

Abroad means outside of Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales).

You may be able to claim Housing Benefit on your usual home for up to 4 weeks if you go abroad for:

  • a holiday
  • religious reasons
  • domestic reasons

We may ask to see evidence of how you have paid for the trip. We may ask how you have supported yourself (and any family) while you are away from home. If you have told us that you will be away for a certain period, you must tell us when you return. If you do not tell us at the expected return date, we may suspend your claim.

Always get advice about all benefits before going abroad.

Contact the Benefits Team