Housing Systems: Combating poverty and sustaining tenancies.
Rent Issues: Occupying - Length of Sentence

As soon as the claimant is found guilty and convicted to serve a sentence in GB, HB is only payable if the claimant is:

  • Due to return home within a total absence* up to 13 weeks (including the time already spent on remand), and
  • They intend to return home, and
  • have not sublet the property, and 
  • They have a 'live' HB claim.

*REMEMBER: It is the total length of absence that counts - not just the time spent away from home once convicted.

Length of sentence

HB Guidance says that in deciding how long someone is likely to be in prison they should take account of the fact that most prisoners only serve half the sentence because of parole and / or can get released early on electronic tagging (see below). A sentence will always include the time spent on remand.

Anyone sentenced to 12 months or less can be released within 13 weeks.

If the sentence is for 6 months or less the claimant is likely to be home within the 13 week period as they will only serve half their sentence - although this does depend on good behaviour whilst in prison.

If the sentence is for between 6 months and 12 months and the claimant is eligible to be released early on electronic tagging, they may return home within 13 weeks - see example 3 below. Under the Home Detention Curfew (HDC) scheme the prisoner must serve a quarter of their sentence or 30 days (whichever is longer) in prison and can be on HDC for up to 135 days (4 and a half months).

There is always a risk that whilst the claimant is due out early on a tag - that they 'misbehave' whilst in prison and their release date is altered. Where this means that they will no longer be able to return to the property within 13 weeks their HB would stop from the Monday after the date the decision on their new release date was made.

Example 1:
Your tenant, Mr Grabbit has been on remand for six weeks when he is convicted of theft and sentenced to five months' imprisonment. As he is expected to be released after half the sentence (two and a half months or say 11 weeks) and he has already served six weeks he will be in prison for a further five weeks at which point he intends to return home.
As the point at which he intends to return is less than thirteen weeks from the date he left home in handcuffs Mr Grabbit may not have his HB stopped at all if the HB Office are aware of his circumstances.

Example 2:
Your tenant, Miss Demeanour, has been on remand for fourteen weeks when she is charged with GBH and sentenced to one year in prison. Even with parole her expected total stay at her Majesty's pleasure will be about six months, which is much more than the thirteen weeks limit for sentenced prisoners.
Therefore as soon as she is sentenced her entitlement to HB ceases (ie is paid up to the Sunday after sentencing) as she cannot be said to be intending to return home within the thirteen week deadline.
But she was entitled to HB during the fourteen weeks she was on remand because up until conviction she fell under the 52 week rule, and she may be entitled to HB for her notice period if she terminates her tenancy.

Example 3:
Mr Stollen spends no time on remand, but at court is sentenced to 10 months. After being in jail for 7 weeks he gets a letter stating that he has been accepted onto the Home Detention Curfew scheme and will be released for electronic tagging after serving 2 1/2 months. It is likely that his HB will have been terminated on sentencing and he will need to request that the HB Office revise their decision given this new information, and award HB for this period he has been in prison based on the fact that he is now only going to be away for less than 13 weeks. A more informed HB Office may have only suspended his HB, in this case all he need do is inform HB of his release date and the HB Office will unsuspend his claim and pay him HB.

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