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The claimant acquires a partner

The claimant acquires a partner

If someone moves in with the tenant as a partner the tenant will need to notify the HB Office of this change in their circumstances as soon as possible, to avoid any potential overpayment or underpayment of HB.

If the partner is a “person from abroad” unable to claim HB (eg because they have “no recourse to public funds”) this can have a serious impact on the HB award – click here.

The first thing to consider is whether this change in their circumstances- ie that they are now a couple - would end their HB award.

There are a limited number of circumstances when this would end the HB claim - these are:

  • Taking into account the new partner’s income and/or savings they are not entitled to HB.
  • Where, due to the change, they need to make a new claim for Universal Credit* (unless living in ‘specified ‘ or ‘temporary’ accommodation).
    * For example, on becoming a couple any existing award of Tax Credits will be brought to an end, and if they need the financial help Tax Credits would have given they may now need to claim UC instead.
  • The tenant is pension age and their new partner is working age or vice versa (although there are some situations where any HB could continue – click here).
Note that there may be other reasons why taking on a partner may trigger the need to claim UC – see our Need2Claim UC? mapping tool.


EXAMPLE

Fred's 56 and trying to find work. His girlfriend Jackie, 54, is moving in with him. Jackie has been getting Working Tax Credit as a single person but now she's in a couple her WTC has to end. She can't make a new (couple) claim for WTC, so if they want to replace this lost income they'll need to claim UC. Their HB will come to an end as a result- but they should be entitled to the "2 week run-on".


What if the new partner is already claiming Universal Credit?

If the new partner is already claiming Universal Credit they are likely to be told that their only option is for them to have a couple claim for UC. However, this is not always the case and they should seek advice before moving in together.

For instance where a single, childless tenant on Income-Related ESA and HB becomes a couple with a single, childless, jobseeking UC claimant, the jobseeker could end their UC award and then move in with the tenant - who could then report the change in circumstances to the DWP and have their new partner added onto their IR-ESA and HB awards. 


EXAMPLE

Billy, 29, gets UC - he's looking for work. He moves in with Kylie, 23, who gets IR-ESA and HB. As nothing else has changed that would trigger a need to claim UC he can join Kylie's IR-ESA award.

 

If the HB award continues...

The HB Office will need to re-assess the tenant’s entitlement to HB. This will be based on the couple’s new circumstances. The award could increase or decrease. More on how HB is calculated here.

If they become entitled to more HB, the tenant must inform the HB Office within one calendar month of the date of change to get the increased HB from that date: otherwise it is only increased from the Monday following the date it is notified. There is a Standard Letter CC20 to request HB to be paid from date of change where the claimant has special reasons for late notification.

 

One of the couple leaves or dies

The tenant’s partner leaves or dies

The tenant will need to notify the HB Office of this change in their circumstances as soon as possible, to avoid any potential overpayment or underpayment of HB.

Note this includes where the partner has gone into permanent residential care ie they are not expected to return within 52 weeks.

The first thing to consider is whether they do actually now count as single rather than a couple. They would still count as a couple if they did not intend to separate permanently and the separation was less than 52 weeks. However if one of them goes abroad the remaining member must claim as a couple after their partner has been abroad for 4 weeks or more - longer in some situations.



The next thing to consider is whether this change in their circumstances- ie that they are now a single claimant - would end any HB award. These are:

  • Where it was the partner who has left or died who was the main HB claimant – in which case the HB award will end.
    • And note that if If the remaining tenant is unable to claim benefits because of their immigration status (eg they have “No Recourse to Public Funds”) they will not be able to claim either HB or UC, apart from very limited circumstances. Click here for more information. 
  • Where even though the tenant is the HB claimant, taking into account their new circumstances and income and savings they are no longer entitled to HB.
  • Where, due to the change, they need to make a new claim for Universal Credit* (unless living in ‘specified or ‘temporary’ accommodation).
  • Where the partner who has left or died was pension credit age and the tenant is working age, and they were getting HB under the pension credit age Regulations.

* Examples of having to claim UC: include:

  • On becoming single any existing award of Tax Credits will be brought to an end, and if they need the financial help Tax Credits would have given they may now need to claim UC instead.
  • Although the tenant was the main HB claimant, their partner who was the main claimant of Income-Related ESA – so they will lose that income and have to look at claiming UC instead.

Note that there may be other reasons why becoming single may trigger the need to claim UC – see our “Need2Claim UC? mapping tool.

NOTE:
If the person who left or died was an EEA national, and the remaining partner had been their spouse / civil partner / long term partner (and is not themselves a British citizen or an EEA national with a right to reside or a non-EEA national with a right to claim benefits) then they will need advice on whether they can claim UC (and other benefits) - and what to do if they can’t. Click here for more information. 


EXAMPLE

Vernon, 33, and Jake, 37 were living as a couple with a joint IB- JSA claim. Vernon was the HB claimant and Jake the partner. They've not been getting on so finally Vernon has gone back to live with Mum. Jake cannot make a new claim for HB so has to claim UC; his JSA will end.

 

EXAMPLE

Bushra, 64, and Naz, 67, have been claiming IR-ESA and HB. Sadly Naz dies. As he wa the HB claimant Bushra would, pre-UC, be looking to make a new claim for HB. But as she is working age she has to claim UC instead. Her IR ESA will end but she should have the equivalent element included in her UC award.

 

If the tenant has been the main HB claimant

If the tenant was the main HB claimant then their HB award can continue – as long as they don’t fall into one of those situations where the HB would end. See this page.

The HB Office will re-assess their entitlement from the date their partner left or died.

 

EXAMPLE:

Flo and Joe are in their 50s and claiming IB JSA. Joe is the HB claimant. Flo dies but Joe's HB claim continues and as nothing else has changed he doesn't need to claim UC.

 

If it was the partner who was the main HB claimant

If it was the tenant’s partner who was the main HB claimant, then the award of HB will end from the Monday after they left the property / died.

If the tenant falls into one of the groups (at the top of this page) able to make a new claim for HB, then as long as they make a new claim for HB within one calendar month of the separation or death, HB can be awarded from that date - click on the regulations: HB reg 83 (5) (c).

~ NOTE: The tenant may now be entitled to the Severe Disability Premium in an award of IS, IR-ESA or IB-JSA - if they act quickly they could avoid UC – click here

But if they leave it longer before making a new claim then they will need to request that this is backdated - unless they are of Pension Credit age when the claim should automatically be backdated 3 months. More on backdating here.

 

Special rules regarding under-occupancy/size criteria rules

The room allocation under the Bedroom Tax (social housing) or the LHA rules (private tenancies) stays the same for 52 weeks from the date of death of a ‘linked person’ (family member or non-dependant)

More on this page.

More on death on this page.

Dependant Children

A dependent child / young person arrives or is born

See this page.

 

A dependent child / young person leaves or dies

The tenant will need to notify the HB Office of this change in their circumstances as soon as possible, to avoid any potential overpayment or underpayment of HB.

The first thing to consider is whether this change in their circumstances would end any HB award. These are:

  • When the HB Office re-assess their entitlement, they are no longer entitled, or
  • Where, due to the change, they need to make a new claim for Universal Credit* (unless living in ‘specified ‘ or ‘temporary’ accommodation).
* For example, they were claiming Income Support as a single parent, but now their child has left or died they are no longer able to claim IS so that award ends.

Note that there may be other reasons why taking on a partner may trigger the need to claim UC – see our “Need2Claim UC? mapping tool.

 

EXAMPLE

Mildred is a single parent of son Barney,aged 3.. She gets Income Support and HB. Mildred's mental health and addictions mean that Barney is taken into full time LA care so her IS ends as she is no longer a single parent. As she cannot make a new claim for IB JSA she has to claim UC and her HB ends but she will be entitled to the"2 week run-on".


If the HB award continues

If a child allowance had been included in the HB applicable amount then this allowance in respect of this child will end on the Sunday of the benefit week in which the child leaves or dies. If the claimant has been affected by the Two Child Limit, then a Child Allowance may now be allowed for another child – click here.

The child leaving the household or dying may mean other changes to the way the tenant’s HB award is assessed. For example their income might drop, more of their earnings could be take into account, they could become affected by the Benefit Cap eg if the child that has left/died was getting DLA or PIP, and so on.


Special rules regarding under-occupancy/size criteria rules

The room allocation under the Bedroom Tax (social housing) or the LHA rules (private tenancies) stays the same for 52 weeks from the date of death of a ‘linked person’ (family member / non-dependant).

More on this page.

More on death on this page.


Child / young person temporarily away from home?

A child/qualifying young person will be regarded as permanently absent if they have been away from their normal home for 52 weeks or more.

If a child / dependent young person is temporarily absent they will still be treated as part of the claimant's family and a Child Allowance will be included in the claimant's Applicable Amount for them unless they are being “looked after by” (Scotland- “in the care of”) a Local Authority. (Reg 21 of the HB regs 2006).

However a child looked after by the Local Authority who spends part of the week back at home might be classed as part of the claimant's household - it will be at the HB Office’s discretion.

Regulation 21, paragraph(5) of the HB Regs says that the HB Office should treat a child or young person who is in the care of the local authority as being a member of the claimants’ household in any benefit week where—

  • (a) that child or young person lives with the claimant for part or all of that benefit week; and
  • (b) the authority considers that it is reasonable to do so taking into account the nature and frequency of that child’s or young person’s visits.

More on when a child is part of a household on this page.


Non-dependants

A non-dependant arrives

The claimant must inform the HB Office straight away of a non-dependant moving in. Failure to do so within a calendar month would risk being overpaid / underpaid. See Standard Letter CC20 to request HB to be paid from date of change where the claimant has special reasons for late notification. 

The first thing to consider is whether this change in their circumstances would end any HB award. These are:

  • When the HB Office re-assess their entitlement, they are no longer entitled ie due to a non-dependant deduction.
  • Where, due to the change, they need to make a new claim for Universal Credit* (unless living in "specified" or ‘temporary’ accommodation).


Example of having to claim UC:
Where they were on IR -ESA but were only eligible for this "top-up" because of the Severe Disability Premium in their applicable amount; now they are no longer "living alone" they lose the Severe Disability Premum and hence the IR-ESA. As HB should continue this won't mean an immediate need to claim UC, but could mean a need to claim UC if their financial circumstances change in the future. 

Note that there may be other reasons why taking on a partner may trigger the need to claim UC – see our “Need2Claim UC? mapping tool.

Where a non-dependant permanently joins a household (or for that matter a child ceases to be a child / qualifying young person and becomes a non-dependant) then there may be a non-dependant deduction. The amount of deduction can depend on both the non-dependant’s situation and the claimant’s. 


EXAMPLE

Sam and Asad claim a small amount of HB - they have two children and Asad is in low paid work. Sam's nephew Josh who is 23 comes to live with them on a permanent basis. Josh works and so a non-dependent deduction is applied to their HB which floats them of HB. However as nothing else has changed they do not need to claim UC.


However if the non-dependant has moved in but has no intention of staying very long or of making it their home, then it is probably just a temporary stay and there should be no non-dependant deduction. Click here.

And there are special rules where the tenant (or their partner) is aged 65 or over – click here.

On this page we outline how a non-dependant moving in or out can affect an award of HB, For more information on non-dependant deductions and the amounts - click here.

Under the size criteria rules - in social housing for the Bedroom Tax and in the private rented sector for Local Housing Allowance (LHA) - a non-dependant is deemed to need their own bedroom (unless it is just a temporary stay).

NOTE: The rules on non-dependant deductions under Universal Credit are very different – and the tenant could find that they would be better off on UC – but there is a lot to think about before making a claim.) Click here for who’s better off on UC.


A non-dependant leaves or dies

Where a non-dependant leaves the household, or dies, any non-dependant deduction should end. However if the claimant does not notify the HB Office then the deduction will continue: this can also be a problem if the claimant does not know where the non-dependant has gone. For what to do in this situation, including standard letter, see this page.

Under the size criteria rules - in social housing for the Bedroom Tax and in the private rented sector for Local Housing Allowance (LHA) - a non-dependant is deemed to need their own bedroom so a non-dependant moving out could impact on the HB award. See this page for when the bedroom tax can stay the same for a year following a household member’s death.

Tenant away from home

The tenant is away from their home  - Temporary absences

If the HB claimant leaves their home on a temporary basis they can continue to receive HB on their home for a limited period so long as they intend to return and have not sublet the property. The period of time they can be away depends on the reason for being absent.

And if the absence is too long to continue to receive HB, their award will end but there may be someone else living in the property who could claim help (probably through Universal Credit) instead.

Click here for more information on temporary absences.


The tenant leaves the property - and the property is now empty.

If they are moving within the LA area and are going to stay on HB at their new address, then their HB award will end from the day before they move out – but they may be entitled to HB for any notice period – click here.

If they are moving within the LA area but are going to have to claim UC at their new address (note this would be in limited circumstances only) then their HB award will end from the day before they moved out - but they should be entitled to the "2 week run-on".

Note that there may be other reasons why taking on a partner may trigger the need to claim UC - see our Need2Claim UC? mapping tool.

If they are moving to a new LA area then their HB award will end from the end of the week in which they move. They may be entitled to HB for any notice period BUT if they make a new claim for Universal Credit at their new address then their HB award will end from the day before they make this claim (although they may be entitled to the "2 week run-on").


EXAMPLE

Katya is expecting a baby in three weeks - she moves from her one bed flat in Leeds into a 2 bed house in Bradford, a different LA. Her tenancy ends on the Sunday and she moves in on the Monday. She claims UC on the same day and the DWP send a stop notice to the LA ending her HB. 


Where a landlord has been receiving HB direct, they are under an obligation to inform the HB Office if the property is left empty, because it is assumed that the landlord should know when a claimant leaves. This can cause a dispute when a claimant abandons a property and the landlord only finds out when invoiced for an overpayment - but the landlord can challenge this decision - click here.


The tenant leaves the property - and someone else is still living in it.

Where the tenant leaves the property, any HB awarded for that property will end.

The rules above apply BUT you should consider whether any of the occupants left living in the property could make a new claim for HB*, or get help from Universal Credit, with any ‘use and occupation’ charge – click here.

* Only where they fit into the categories of people who can claim: see list at top of page.
NOTE: They may now be entitled to the Severe Disability Premium in an award of IS, IR-ESA or IB-JSA and therefore if they act quickly they could be allowed to make a new claim for HB – click here







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