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Guide to Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support

Find detailed information about Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support including who is eligible to apply for it.

Published on: 8 December 2020

Last updated: 4 February 2021

If you leave home

Temporary absence from home and your Housing Benefit

If you know you are going to be away from home for 4 weeks or more, please remember to tell the benefits team straight away. 

From 28 July 2016, the rules have changed. When calculating the period of any absence, the day on which you leave your home counts towards the number of days you are absent. The day you return home does not count towards calculating the period of absence.

You can get Housing Benefit for:

up to 4 weeks if you are:

outside of Great Britain (includes England, Wales and Scotland) and your absence is not expected to exceed 4 weeks

up to 8 weeks if you are:

outside of Great Britain (includes England, Wales and Scotland) due to the death of

  • a partner, child or young person that you have responsibility for
  • you or your partner’s close relative or a close relative of a child or young person for whom you or your partner are responsible for

and it is unreasonable to expect you to return within the first 4 weeks.

up to 13 weeks if you are:

  • on holiday in Great Britain (includes England, Wales and Scotland)
  • doing voluntary work
  • looking after a sick relative or friend
  • a convicted prisoner

but you must intend to return home within 13 weeks and you must not sublet your home. You must let the benefit team know when you decide to return home.

up to 26 weeks if you are:

  • a member of the armed forces away on operations
  • a mariner
  • a continental shelf worker

up to 52 weeks if you are:

  • in hospital
  • in fear of violence
  • receiving respite care in a residential care home (see below)
  • in custody/on remand (as soon as you are sentenced you will be assessed under the 13 week rules)

but you must intend to return home and you must not sublet your home. You must let the benefit team when you decide to return home.

Residential care homes

If you are in residential care in Great Britain on a trial basis to assess whether it is the right accommodation for you, you can continue to get your Housing Benefit for up to 13 weeks, so long as you intend to return home if the accommodation proves not to be suitable for you.

If you know you are going to be away from home, including starting a trial basis, please remember to tell the benefits team:

  • the reason why you will be away
  • how long you will be away for
  • if you intend to return to your home

Whilst you are way, please remember to tell us if

  • you sublet your property
  • If your circumstances change
  • you decide not to return home.

We will stop paying you benefit from the Monday following the date you decide not to return home.

For a detailed list of the differences between temporary absences within Great Britain and outside Great Britain please see our temporary absence table.

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