Changes in circumstances for benefits

Housing Benefit can normally only be paid when you are living at the address for which you are claiming. There are some exceptions which allow people to be absent from their home and still be entitled.

The general rule is that; if during your absence you are in a country outside Great Britain, you can be away for no more than four weeks. If you are away from your home but remain in Great Britain, you can be temporarily absent for up to thirteen weeks.

To qualify when you are away from home you must also:

  • intend to return to your home from the outset, and

  • you or your landlord must not sublet your home whilst you are absent

If you move away from home you must let us know before you leave. Once you have returned home, you need to let us know the date you came back.

Away for up to fifty-two weeks?

You may get housing benefit for absences of up to fifty-two weeks, as long as you remain in Great Britain, intend to return home, and the following special circumstances apply;

  • are held on remand in prison
  • are in a bail hostel or have been bailed to stay away from home
  • are in hospital or receiving medical care
  • have left your home through fear of violence

Any absence outside Great Britain cannot exceed four weeks, unless;

  • at the Housing Benefit Department’s discretion, if you are abroad for a family funeral, you may be away for up to six weeks, or
  • if you are in hospital or receiving medical care you may be absent for up to twenty-six weeks.

If your circumstances have changed please tell us by using our online Change in circumstances form.