2nd September, 2018
As I’m sure you’re aware, under Housing Benefit/LHA rules there are a number of scenarios where tenants and family members can be absent from home for weeks/months without any adverse effect on the household HB/LHA entitlement, Some, but not all of these concessions, are available, as well, under Universal Credit. However, DWP has obviously failed to properly explain this to its staff.
In terms of Universal Credit there are two types of absence that would generally make a new adult claimant ineligible for Universal Credit: a) Living or holidaying outside GB; and b) Being in prison.
However where a Universal Credit claim is already ‘live’, DWP will allow a temporary period of absence without loss of the “housing element”. Effectively, this means up to 1 month temporary absence abroad for any reason (e.g. holiday, visiting relatives); or a longer period of up to 6 months temporary absence abroad for reasons of medical treatment.
In addition, DWP will protect the “housing element” for up to 6 months temporary absence due to imprisonment or being taken temporarily into residential or hospital care.
Other forms of temporary absence would not generally make a person ineligible for Universal Credit, but can impact of the status of the household for Universal Credit purposes. So where an adult or child is temporarily absent from their 1 extendable by up to a further month in cases of bereavement where the Secretary of State considers that it would be unreasonable to expect the claimant to return sooner. 2 by which we mean absence to (a) assist in the treatment of any member of the household of an illness or (physical or mental) disability by an appropriately qualified person or (b) medically approved convalescence or care 6 household because they are in a residential institution elsewhere (e.g. in hospital, staying in a residential care home [but excludes child or young person in Local Authority care home] or residential school) then up to 6 months temporary absence is permissible, during which Universal Credit is payable as normal as if the adult/child/non-dependent was still in the same household. After this point the person in hospital (for example) will no longer be treated as part of the couple/originating household. They may still be eligible themselves but no housing element will be payable whilst they continue to have their accommodation needs met elsewhere. 32. More generally where a person is temporarily absent from the household but remains within GB then we will also allow up to 6 months temporary absence during which Universal Credit will be paid as normal as if the adult/child/non-dependent was still in the same household. After this point the person may still be eligible in their own right but not as part of the original couple/household. 33. As part of all of these rules we retain the right to change eligibility earlier than the maximum allowable period where it is clear that that the absence is permanent or the period is going to be exceeded.