Housing Systems: Combating poverty and sustaining tenancies.
Rent Issues: Occupying - Length of Absence
In deciding if HB can be paid for a period of temporary absence the HB Office must decide if the claimant has an intention to return home within the specified period (ie 4, 13 or 52 weeks - click here).

Counting the length of absence

The absence starts from the first day the claimant is away from their home (CH/1237/2004 and CH/2111/2018). But the day of return is not counted - CH/2111/2018.

For example if the claimant started their absence on Sunday 5th May, then the 4 weeks would take them to Saturday 1st June. So as long as they return on or before Sunday 2nd June, their absence would be no more than 4 weeks - as the day of return is disregarded.

Even if the absence at that time was for a different reason as long as they have not returned home (with the exception of prisoners on temporary release and those going abroad) for more than 24 hours HB Guidance Manual A3, 3.460.

For example the claimant may have started their absence by visiting relatives in GB, and whilst away was taken ill and is now in hospital. When working out how long they are likely to be away from home any time spent at the relatives home needs to be added to the likely time they are to spend in hospital to see if this falls below the limit for temporary absences in hospital ie a 52 week time limit.

Continued entitlement under these rules should be judged on a week by week basis. If at any time it becomes likely that the 4/13/52 weeks will be exceeded, that is a relevant change in the claimant's circumstances, and the HB Office should re-consider the award. The HB office can decide to end the award, end the award but allow HB for the notice period, (so long as not moved to a new home where claiming UC), or in limited circumstances the 52 week rules can be extended.

52 weeks - could this ever be longer?

If the absence is likely to be more than 52 weeks, but not substantially exceed 52 weeks, and there are exceptional circumstances, then the HB Office can pay HB for the 52 week period, but no more. DWP Guidance suggests that 'substantially exceed' could mean absences of up to 15 months. And that exceptional circumstances, could be someone who is delayed going out of hospital due to a relapse, or is prevented from returning home due to an unanticipated event.

Stays away with gaps

Each absence is looked at individually.

There are no provisions to link periods of temporary absence (with the exception of prisoners on temporary release), so a day or two back at home would break one absence and if the claimant was away again a new temporary absence period would start. The DWP suggests that a stay at home lasting only a few hours may not break the absence but one that lasts 24 hours may do so.

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