Benefits claims can be affected by the claimants’ location in certain cases. Through this article, we aim to learn how long can someone go on a holiday and still be able to claim benefits. We will also discuss the impact of going on a holiday and leaving an empty house as well as other circumstances that bear an impact on your benefits. 

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 availabel).

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

However, not all benefits are affected by the fact that you are out of the UK temporarily. 

Benefits that are affected by going abroad include the following:  

  • Attendance Allowance  
  • Bereavement Benefits 
  • Carer’s Allowance 
  • Constant Attendance Allowance
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Housing Benefits
  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Maternity Allowance
  • Over 80s Pension
  • Pension Credit
  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP)  
  • Reduced Earnings Allowance
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • State Retirement Pension
  • Unemployability Supplement
  • Universal Credit  
  • War Pensions
  • Widow’s Benefits

If you intend to have a longer holiday than the indicated timeframes or plan to move out of the UK, you must inform your Job Centre. They will be able to guide you regarding the benefits you will still be able to claim depending on your circumstances.

Can I Get Council Tax Relief If My Home Is Empty?

Sometimes you may be able to get council tax relief on an empty property. However, this depends on certain overarching conditions that may need to be considered. These include:

  • If the said property is not the main residence (whether it is rented or owned) qualifies as a second home. In this case, the local council may assign a discount of up to 50 per cent on the council tax bill.
  • If there is major rework being done such as the reconstruction of walls, a discount on the council tax bill may be applicable. 

If a new property is being constructed or an existing one is being refurbished, no council tax will be applicable for the duration of construction/home improvement. 

If a property is considered to be derelict; making it impossible to be inhabited, it will be exempted from council tax payment. However, the deterioration to the premises must be due to weather conditions, vandalism or rot. Additionally, the property must require structural refurbishments to be made liveable again.

If the owner of the property has died and it remains unoccupied, there is council tax due on the premises. This discount remains applicable even after probate has been attained. However, once 6 months have passed after the probate, council tax becomes applicable.

A temporary exemption of up to 6 weeks may be applicable in cases where the said property is unoccupied, unfurnished, and listed for sale.

Can I Own A House When On 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.

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.

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.

Can Someone Stay With Me When On 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.

If your former partner continues living with you despite separation, you may have to sacrifice certain benefits that you were claiming together as a couple.

Can I Accept A Gift Of Money When On Benefits?

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.

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)

Your income and capital need to be below a certain threshold to qualify you for means-tested benefits. Each benefit has its own criteria for assessment.

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:

From this detailed discussion, it appears that as long as your holiday runs up to 13 weeks in total, you may be able to continue claiming your benefits during this time. In certain cases, you may also be able to claim your UK based benefits if you move to an EEA country for a few months. Whether your stay out of the UK is temporary or permanent you should inform your Job Centre and HMRC for appropriate guidance as per your circumstances.

FAQs: How Long Can You Go On Holiday When On Benefits?

Do you have to tell DWP if I go on holiday?

Yes, you must inform the DWP if you go on holiday. If you fail to do so and are away for more than four weeks, you may lose your entitlement to the benefits you claim; especially Personal Independence Payments.

Are you allowed to go abroad when on benefits?

While you may travel for short holidays and keep receiving your benefits payments; in case you are away from the UK for more than four weeks, you may start to lose certain benefits.

Can I leave Universal Credit?

Yes, you can leave Universal Credit if you are no longer eligible to claim payments. You can apply online or call the Job Centre on phone.

How long can I stay on Universal Credit?

You can stay on Universal credit until there is a change in your circumstances and your income is enough for you not to need support through benefits.

Can Universal Credit see my bank account?

While the DWP does not maintain regular surveillance of your bank account, if they suspect you of benefit fraud, they will gather data related to your bank account and financial transactions.

References:

Claiming benefits if you live, move or travel abroad – GOV.UK

Going abroad | nidirect

Benefits abroad | Independent Age

Can You Claim Benefits If You Own A House?.

Report benefits change

Moving in with a new partner – Gingerbread

Income from voluntary or charity sources.

Discounts and exemptions (sheffield.gov.uk)

What was missing from this post which could have made it better?

John has 22 years of experience in financial services. This spans across financial research, financial services (As a qualified mortgage broker and underwriter), financial trading and sales at global investment banks. While working as a publishing research analyst, he covered European bank credit and advised institutional clients on investment strategies at both JP Morgan and Societe Generale. John has passed all three levels of the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) programme.

John has 22 years of experience in financial services. This spans across financial research, financial services (As a qualified mortgage broker and underwriter), financial trading and sales at global investment banks. While working as a publishing research analyst, he covered European bank credit and advised institutional clients on investment strategies at both JP Morgan and Societe Generale. John has passed all three levels of the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) programme.