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Temporarily absent

If you receive housing benefit then you need to tell us when you're going away.

You are not entitled to housing benefit if you are absent from Great Britain for more than 4 weeks or absent from your home for more than 13 weeks

The rules are different depending on whether:

  • you're absent from your home but still in Great Britain
  • you're absent from your home and leave Great Britain for more than 4 weeks

Great Britain includes England, Scotland and Wales and the adjoining islands of the Isle of Wight, Anglesey, the Scottish Islands and Isles of Scilly.

Great Britain does not include Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

Temporarily absent in the UK

When you're absent from home but have not left Great Britain, the general rule is that you’ll keep your housing benefit or council tax support if you’re;

  • away for less than 13 weeks
  • you intend to return home
  • your home has not been re-let or sub-let

The exceptions to this rule are if you're absent from home:

  • receiving medical care
  • in custody (waiting for trial) 
  • in a nursing home on a trial basis

In these situations you may be entitled to housing benefit or council tax support for up to 52 weeks.

It's important that you tell us if you're going to be absent from your home for more than:

  • 4 weeks if you are leaving Great Britain
  • 13 weeks if you're absent but staying in Great Britain.

Please complete a change in circumstances form to tell us about this.

Hospital stays

You must tell the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) if you go into or out of hospital to find out what benefits you can claim. Most benefits are reduced during a stay in hospital after four or six weeks. If you weren’t claiming any benefit before going into hospital you may be entitled to claim now.

If you’re in hospital you can also contact:

Hospital Social Work Team
Whipps Cross Hospital
Whipps Cross Road
Leytonstone
E11 1NR

Phone: 020 8539 5522
Minicom: 020 8558 2885

You may lose benefit if you delay telling us about any change in circumstances. If the benefit has been overpaid to you, you may have to pay it back.

Temporarily absent outside the UK

When you're absent from the UK the general rule is that you’ll keep your housing benefit if you’re:

  • away for less than 4 weeks
  • you intend to return home
  • your home has not been re-let or sub-let

The exceptions to this rule are:

  • Bereavement

If you’re away from home because of the death of a close relative, then we can extend it for up to another 4 weeks if we think it’s unreasonable to expect you to return home sooner.

  • Medical care

If you, your partner or a dependent child is undergoing medical care or is recovering in a home overseas, then absence from home can be allowed for up to 26 weeks.

Tell us you're going abroad

You can learn more about any other changes in situation we need to know or go straight to the change in circumstances online form.

Contact us

Revenues and Benefits Service
London Borough of Waltham Forest
PO Box 856
London
E17 9PN

Phone: 020 8496 3000