The benefits that individuals on the low-income claim in the UK primarily take into account the claimants’ income and savings for a benefits claim. Through this blog post, we will try to learn whether owning a caravan affects your benefits claim. For an overall view of the topic, we will also assess other situations in which benefits claimants may own or inherit a house, a large sum of money and yet remain eligible to claim benefits.

Does Owning A Caravan Affect Benefits?

No, owning a caravan does not affect your benefits claim. Whether a caravan is used as a mobile home and a permanent residence or as a holiday caravan for leisure, it will not be counted as an asset for your means test with regards to benefits claim. In both cases, you can either be on Housing Benefit or claim the housing element of Universal Credit.

Generally speaking, benefits that are means-tested (this means that the claimants’ income and savings affect their benefits claim) will reduce with an increase in your savings. These include the following:

  • Jobseekers Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Pension Tax
  • Housing Benefit
  • Council Tax Support
  • Universal Credit
  • Working Tax Credits
  • Child Tax Credits

However, since the following benefits are not means-tested, the amount that you claim from them will not be affected by your finances:

  • Disability Living Allowance 
  • Personal Independence Payment 
  • Contribution-Based Employment and Support Allowance

In fact, you can also continue claiming benefits if you own a house, solely or through the joint ownership scheme. In this case, you will also be able to claim Housing Benefit or Universal Credit Housing Cost element for your monthly rental or mortgage payments. 

If you own a house or you live with a partner who owns their house, you can claim support to help you pay your mortgage interest. This is a repayable interest accrued loan.

Additionally, you can claim Universal Credit to make payments related to your home; such as:

  • the cost of purchasing the property
  • home insurance
  • repairs and maintenance

However, you must be on benefits for at least 39 weeks without a break in between

Does Inheriting A House Affect Benefits?

If you inherit a house while on benefits, the property will be considered an asset and will affect the means-tested benefits that you receive such as Housing Benefit or Universal Credit. It is only in the case of non-means-tested benefits such as Personal Independence Payments and Disability Living Allowance that your benefits claim is not affected by your income, savings or assets.

When a means test is carried out for benefits claim, the following types of income are taken into account for benefits claim and that too for income-based benefits:

  • Cash
  • Stocks and shares
  • Savings
  • Assets
  • Investments (rent, dividend, interest)
  • Unearned income (pension payments, student income)

Does Owning A House Affect Benefits?

Yes, you can claim benefits such as Income Support and Job Seekers Allowance if you own a house; however, you will no longer be eligible for Housing Benefit. The reason for this lies in the fact that to qualify for Housing Benefit, claimants need to be able to fulfil the following criteria:

  • be at least 16 years old
  • have a low income or be claiming other benefits
  • have less than £16,000 in savings

If your house is mortgaged, you can still claim benefits and use the sum of payments received to pay your mortgage interest.

If you own a house or you live with a partner who owns their house, you can claim support to help you pay your mortgage interest. This is a repayable interest accrued loan.

Does Sharing A House Affect Benefits?

Whether it is a partner, friend or family member; anyone can stay at your house without affecting benefits as long as your place of residence is not their main residence. This means that they may choose to stay with you for a few days or sleepover the night or stay over if they are taking care of you for any reason; however, they must have evidence to prove that they have a permanent residence of their own where they are responsible for paying rent, council tax and monthly utility bills.

There has been a general assumption that someone staying over at your place for two to three nights per week will not affect your benefits or in the case of a relationship, you will not be considered as a partner. The error with this assumption is that it is not the number of days (or nights) that count towards classifying two people as living together and consequently affecting their benefits, it is the evidential proof of whether someone is considering your home as their own when they stay in your house. 

If someone regularly stays at your place for a few nights each week, doesn’t have a permanent residence of their own or their bills are addressed to your home, they will be considered as living with you and due to this change in your circumstances, your benefits will be affected.

Does A Gift Of Money Affect Benefits?

No, a one time gift of money or small amounts of it at varying intervals will not affect your benefits. Additionally, the amount of money that you may receive from friends, family or charitable sources is not included in the means test for benefits.

However, should you incur regular/periodic payments from friends, family or charity, these will be added under the “savings” section for your benefit claim. This is applicable if you receive large amounts of gift money and your total savings exceed £6,000.

Monetary gifts in the form of an annuity are considered an income and will bear an impact on your benefits claim. However, voluntary payments from a former partner or parent of a child are not considered a gift of money.

How Long Can You Go On Holiday When On Benefits?

If you are claiming Attendance Allowance (AA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Disability Living Allowance (DLA) you can go on a holiday for a maximum period of 13 weeks if you want to continue claiming benefits. 

In case you are claiming Carer’s Allowance, you can be away for four weeks in a six-month period to claim your benefit. If you are travelling with the person you care for, this time period can be extended.

If you are claiming Pension Credit, Housing Benefit or Universal Credit, you can be away for four weeks in order to claim your payment; however, in the case of State Pension, there is no restriction on the time period as long as you are in European Economic Area country.

If you are travelling for medical treatment, this may extend to 26 weeks. In either case, you need to inform the Department For Work And Pension about your absence from the UK and also share a forwarding address (if one is available).

You may not be able to claim Employment and Support Allowance if you are travelling away from the UK.

What Changes Need To Be Reported For Benefits Claim?

Claimants need to inform the local council authorities in case of any of the below listed circumstantial changes to their conditions as they will bear a direct impact on their benefits claim:

  • one’s name or gender
  • finding a new job or ending a previous one
  • different working hours
  • increase or decrease in income
  • an increase or decrease in pension, savings, investments or property
  • salary arrears (this applies to you and your partner)
  • beginning or ending an educational degree, training or apprenticeship
  • home address
  • extended stay out of the UK
  • number of people in the household 
  • marital status
  • physical and mental health conditions
  • extended hospital stay or moving into a care home
  • starting or stopping caring for someone
  • change of medical adviser 
  • increase or decrease in benefits you or anyone else in your household receives
  • your immigration status (in case you are not a British citizen)

Conclusion:

The discussion in this article makes it clear that an individual who owns a caravan can still claim benefits as a caravan is not considered to be an asset for a means test regarding benefits claim. In fact, even if you own a house, you may still be able to claim certain benefits; especially those that do not account for housing or living costs such as Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit. 

FAQs: Does Owning A Caravan Affect Benefits?

Is a caravan an asset?

While a caravan is a moveable, tangible asset, it is not considered an asset when the DWP conducts a means test or financial assessment of claimants who have applied for a state benefit(s).

Can you have a mortgage and claim benefits?

Yes, you can have a mortgage and still claim benefits. You can also continue claiming benefits if you own a home through the joint ownership scheme. In this case, you will also be able to claim Housing Benefit or Universal Credit Housing Cost element for your monthly rental or mortgage payments. If you own a house or you live with a partner who owns their house, you can claim support to help you pay your mortgage interest. This is a repayable interest accrued loan.

Does owning a property affect Universal Credit?

No, you can claim Universal Credit to make payments related to your home; such as the cost of purchasing the property, home insurance, repairs and maintenance. However, you must be on benefits for at least 39 weeks without a break in between; also you should not be in receipt of any form of income.

How much money can you have in the bank and still claim benefits in the UK?

There are certain benefits that are affected by the amount in your bank account while others may not be so. In the case of means-tested benefits, your bank account should not hold more than £10,000 for you to remain eligible to claim benefits.

How will a lump sum affect my benefits?

A  lump sum amount will be considered as part of your savings and will reduce your benefits claim for means-tested benefits. These include Council Tax Support, Housing Benefit, Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Pension Credit, Tax Credits (Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit) and Universal Credit.

References:

Mobile Homes and Housing Benefits – Shelter Cymru

Help from benefits if you live in a mobile home – Shelter England

How do savings and lump-sum payouts affect benefits?

How much savings can I have on benefits? | Raisin UK

Check if a change affects your Income Support – Citizens Advice

Can You Claim Benefits If You Own A House?.

How-your-benefits-are-means-tested/

How much savings can I have on benefits? | Raisin UK

How do savings and lump-sum payouts affect benefits? | MoneyHelper

What will affect your Universal Credit payments | nidirect

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