Normally housing benefit and council tax reduction are only payable whilst you are living at the property. However, in certain circumstances benefit and council tax reduction can be paid whilst you are away from home. In order to qualify

  • You must intend to return to the property following the absence
  • The property must not be sub-let or re-let whilst you are away

You may be able to claim whilst you are away from home for a period of 4, 13, 26 or 52 weeks. You must not claim housing or council tax reduction elsewhere and you must intend to return to the property within the absence limit of weeks that meets your criteria. 

The "13 Week Rule"

Certain groups of people are allowed to continue claiming for up to 13 weeks during a period of absence. These are listed below

  1. People in residential accommodation (e.g. homes for the elderly) on a trial basis
  2. People who have been convicted and sentenced for a crime (as long as the total absence up to the end of the sentence does not exceed 13 weeks)
  3. People on holiday in GB or visiting friends

The "52 Week Rule"

Certain groups of people are allowed to continue claiming for up to 52 weeks during a period of absence. Examples of these are listed below

  1. People on remand awaiting trial
  2. People in hospital
  3. People receiving "medically approved care" (e.g. those attending drug or alcohol rehabilitation schemes away from their home)

Going abroad - The "4 Week Rule"

You may be absent for up to 4 weeks outside Great Britain (Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are therefore outside Great Britain), for example whilst on holiday and continue to claim. This general rule may be extended in exceptional circumstances -

  • To 8 weeks if the absence relates to the death of your partner, a child you are responsible for, or a close relative of you, your partner or a child or young person you are responsible for.
  • To 26 weeks if the absence relates to your being a member of Her Majesty's forces posted overseas, a mariner or a continental shelf worker.
  • To 26 weeks if the absence relates to being in hospital or receiving medically approved care in accommodation other than residential accommodation( this also includes accompanying a child, partner or young person for such care), or the absence relates to having left home through a fear of violence.  

Please notify the Benefits team when you are going abroad, either in writing, or by visiting the council offices. We will need to know the date you intend to leave and the intended period of absence. If you would like advice or clarification concerning the above rules please contact the Benefit Team in advance of your intended absence.