Temporary Absence from home or Great Britain

 You are usually only entitled to Housing Benefit whilst you live in your home but there are limited circumstances where you may continue to qualify for Housing Benefit - or the same amount of Housing Benefit - if you or a person in your household is temporarily absent.

There are different rules for absences within Great Britain and absences outside of Great Britain.  Each type of absence is subject to its own specific criteria and strict time-limits.  You or the person who is absent must satisfy the relevant criteria to continue to qualify for Housing Benefit or the same amount of Housing Benefit during a period of temporary absence.

A period of temporary absence from home or Great Britain begins on the first day of absence.  You should provide sufficient evidence and information to confirm the reasons for the absence, the date the absence began and the date the person who was absent returned home or intends to return home.

Absences within Great Britain

Great Britain means England, Scotland and Wales.  Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are not part of Great Britain.

13 weeks or less

You may continue to qualify for Housing Benefit or the same amount of Housing Benefit for up to 13 weeks during a period of temporary absence within Great Britain but only if:

  • you or the person who is absent intends to return to your home; and
  • your home or part of your home used by that person is not let or sub-let during their absence; and
  • the period of absence within Great Britain is unlikely to exceed 13 weeks

More than 13 weeks

If you or a member of your household are going away for 13 weeks or more you must tell us.  You may continue to qualify for Housing Benefit or the same amount of Housing Benefit for up to 52 weeks during a period of temporary absence within Great Britain but only if the absent person is:

  • detained in custody whilst on remand or awaiting sentencing
  • living elsewhere as a condition of bail
  • a hospital in-patient
  • undergoing medical treatment or medically approved care in non-residential accommodation
  • undertaking medically approved care of someone else
  • on a government training course
  • in fear of violence and does not qualify for Housing Benefit on two homes
  • a student not excluded from receiving Housing Benefit who has to study abroad as part of the course
  • receiving temporary residential care

but in all cases you can only continue to qualify for Housing Benefit or the same amount of Housing Benefit if;

  • your or the person who is absent intends to return to your home; and
  • your home or part of your home used by that person is not let or sub-let during their absence; and
  • the period of absence within Great Britain is unlikely to exceed 52 weeks (or in exceptional circumstances is unlikely to substantially exceed 52 weeks)

Absences outside of Great Britain

Great Britain means England, Scotland and Wales.  Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are not part of Great Britain.

You must tell us if you or a member of your household leave Great Britain for any reason, for example, to go on holiday.  You may continue to qualify for Housing Benefit or the same amount of Housing Benefit for up to 4 weeks during a period of temporary absence from Great Britain but only if:

  • you or the person who is absent intends to return to your home; and
  • your home or the part of your home used by that person is not let or sub-let during their absence; and
  • the period of absence from Great Britain is unlikely to exceed 4 weeks

In limited circumstances the 4 week period can be extended by up to a further 4 weeks but only if:

  • the absence from Great Britain is due to the bereavement of a partner, child, sibling or parent: and
  • it is unreasonable to expect the absent person to return to Great Britain within 4 weeks

The maximum period of absence for members of Her Majesty's armed and reserve forces who are posted overseas is 26 weeks from the first day of absence from Great Britain.

The Council Tax Support scheme remains unchanged and the existing rules still apply for temporary absences from home.

For Housing Benefit we need to be informed of any changes to your and/or any member of your households, circumstances as and when any change(s) occur.

You can inform us of any changes by emailing benefits@testvalley.gov.uk.

If you need to submit supporting evidence, please attach a scanned image or photo (in PDF or JPEG format) to your documents.  We will ask you to provide us with original documents if we need to see them.  Please include your Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Reduction reference number, full name, date of birth and National Insurance number.