Maintenance: 24 to 27 February

Due to maintenance, the online services ‘my council tax’ and ‘my benefits’ will be unavailable from 8am on Wednesday 24 February to 9am on Saturday 27 February. Sorry for any inconvenience.

Help whilst away from home

You are absent from your home and in Great Britain

We can pay housing benefit for up to 52 weeks under the following circumstances. You are:

  • A prisoner on remand awaiting sentence
  • A claimant in a probation or bail hostel or bailed away from your home
  • A claimant in a care home (not on a trial period), usually in for respite care
  • A claimant in hospital
  • A claimant following a training course (provided by a government department)
  • A claimant who is an eligible student and has to be away from home for part of your course e.g. on a field trip
  • A claimant fleeing violence or fear of violence, including staying with a relative, but intend to return home
  • Receiving medically approved care where you, as a claimant, are:
    • Absent from home but not in hospital, maybe with relatives
    • Undergoing convalescence
    • Away from home because member of your family is receiving medically approved care
    • Taking medically approved care of someone else
    • Taking care of a child whose parent is undergoing medically approved care

You must provide a letter from a GP, nurse or similar to prove ‘medically approved care’. No formal sick certificate is needed.
We can pay housing benefit for up to 13 weeks for the following reasons. You, as a claimant:

  • Are temporarily absent within Great Britain for any reason
  • Enter residential accommodation on a trial basis
  • Are absent due to the death of a partner, child or close relative

Trial period in a care home

If you, as a claimant, go into a care home to see if it is suitable for you and to see whether you like it there, housing benefit can be paid up to 13 weeks, as long as you have an intention to return home if it is unsuitable.

If you decide you wish to stay in the care home, housing benefit can be paid for four weeks from the date that you make that decision (as long as you claim housing benefit at your old home).

If you have to stay in the care home more than 13 weeks because you are too ill to return home, we can look at whether we can pay housing benefit under the 52 week rule. If you or a family member comes under this circumstance, please contact us below for more information.


As a prisoner on remand, you can have your housing benefit paid for up to 52 weeks.

However, once you have gone on trial and been sentenced, the 13 week absence from home rule applies. Therefore, if you are sentenced to longer than 13 weeks, your claim will be cancelled.

You may get remission which may reduce your absence from home to below the 13 weeks. In this case, housing benefit can continue to be paid.

However, if the sentence is longer than 13 weeks with remission taken off, then housing benefit will be cancelled from the Monday following the date that you were sentenced. We would look at whether we could pay housing benefit for up to four weeks if you still have a liability for your home and it cannot be avoided.

Examples situations

  1. A lady on housing benefit goes to stay with her mother in London for eight weeks and intends to return at the end of the eight weeks. Her housing benefit will continue to be paid as she intends to return
  2. A lady on housing benefit informs the council that she is staying in London for four months and intends to return at the end of the four months. Her housing benefit is cancelled from the Monday following the date she moved to London
  3. A man on housing benefit informs us that he is going to London for seven weeks and intends to return at the end of the seven weeks. On the sixth week of his absence, he contacts the council and says that he will be staying in London for a further eight weeks. There is no medical reason for him staying in London. This will then take him over the 13 weeks limit and his housing benefit will be cancelled from the Monday after he contacted the council
  4. A prisoner has been on remand for 16 weeks and so he still receives housing benefit under the 52 week provision. He is sentenced to one year (he now comes under the 13 week rule). With remission, he will stay in prison for more than 13 weeks. We would cancel his claim from the Monday following the date he was sentenced. Depending on his circumstances, he may be awarded a further four weeks' benefit. The housing benefit previously paid would not be an overpayment

Last updated: ‎06‎/‎01‎/‎2021‎ ‎14‎:‎28‎