Temporary Absence from Great Britain and Housing Benefits

Published July 26, 2016 at 16:37

From 28th July new rules come into force which limit how long housing benefit can be paid to claimants who are temporarily absent from Great Britain.

A change to the Law means that Housing Benefit and Pension Credit cannot be claimed if a customer leaves Great Britain for more than 4 weeks. Until the recent change, absences of up to 13 weeks were permitted.

Customers should take care to note that the changes relate to Great Britain. Great Britain includes England, Scotland and Wales.  Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are not part of Great Britain for Housing Benefit purposes and therefore, any absences to those areas should be considered under the new absence from Great Britain provisions. This is a change from previous regulations which referred to the United Kingdom.

There are exceptions, for example for persons fleeing from domestic violence of for members of the armed forces posted overseas, but for the majority of customers entitlement to Housing Benefits will end as soon as they leave Great Britain, if the absence is expected to be for more than 4 weeks.

A new claim will be required once the claimant has returned to Great Britain.

Customers are reminded that it is the responsibility of the claimant to notify the Council of any changes in circumstances which may affect entitlement to benefit.

The following link will take you to the detailed instructions issued to Councils which explains how the changes must be administered.


If you have any queries relating to this or any other housing benefit matter, please contact us on:

Telephone:      01706 217777

Email:              benefits@rossendalebc.gov.uk

In Writing:        Benefits Department, Admail ADM4005, Rawtenstall, Rossendale, Lancashire, BB4 4ZR

The table below is included as a guide only. It is not intended to be a detailed explanation of the relevant legislation.

Temporary absence table

We have produced this table to illustrate and help identify the differences that now exist between temporary absences within GB and outside of GB.

Circumstances of absence


Within Great Britain Outside Great Britain
A person detained on remand pending trial or sentence upon conviction or as a condition of bail to reside in a dwelling other than their home 52 weeks 4 weeks
A person in a hospital or similar institution as a patient 52 weeks 26 weeks
A person, their partner or dependent child undergoing medical treatment, medically approved convalescence in accommodation other than residential accommodation 52 weeks 26 weeks
A training course 52 weeks 4 weeks
A person who is absent and undertaking medically approved care of a person residing in GB or elsewhere 52 weeks 4 weeks
A person who is caring for child whose parent or guardian is temporarily absent from the home of that parent or guardian and receiving medically approved care or medical treatment 52 weeks 4 weeks
A person who is receiving medically approved care provided in accommodation other than residential accommodation 52 weeks 26 weeks
An eligible student 52 weeks 4 weeks
A person who is receiving care in residential accommodation and is not staying on a trial basis to ascertain if the accommodation suits his needs 52 weeks 4 weeks
A person who has left their home through fear of violence 52 weeks 26 weeks
A person who enters residential accommodation on a trial basis to ascertain if it meets their needs with the intention of returning home 52 weeks 4 weeks
A person who is absent from GB in connection with the death of their partner or a child for whom he or his partner is responsible, the persons close relative, a close relative of the persons partner or a close relative of a child or young person for whom the person or persons partner is responsible 13 weeks 4 weeks plus additional 4 weeks if the Decision Maker considers it unreasonable for the claimant to return home within the first 4 weeks
A member of Her Majesty’s forces posted overseas 13 weeks 26 weeks
A mariner


13 weeks 26 weeks
Continental shelf worker 13 weeks 26 weeks
Any other temporary absence e.g. holiday 13 weeks 4 weeks


This site uses cookies. Find out more about this site’s cookies.