While it may be difficult to prove whether a couple who is living together is in a relationship or continues to do so only to claim benefits, through this article we will delve into the details of what the DWP look for while investigating such a case. We will also discuss different situations that apply to existing and dissolved partnerships and their impact on benefits claims.
What Is Classed As Living Together For Benefits?
According to the Department for Work and Pension (DWP), if two people are living under the following conditions, they will be considered as living together:
- One of them is the registered owner or registered tenant of the house while the other one continues sharing the premises with them as their main residence without having a postal address of their own
- The unregistered occupant is using your home address for to be registered to vote, receive their mail, benefits claim and tax payments
- Both occupants share a joint account
If the above conditions apply to a couple and they choose to live together only to claim more benefits, they may be held guilty of benefits fraud.
Benefits that are affected as a result of a couple splitting up include the following:
- Child Tax Credit
- Council Tax Reduction
- Housing Benefit
- Income Support
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
- Pension Credit
- Universal Credit
- Working Tax Credit
While it is common for couples who separate to continue living together for a while; either due to financial constraints that make joint living affordable or for the benefit of their children. In either case, they will need to provide evidence of being separated while living together in case the authorities visit their house for confirmation regarding their claim.
If the property that you are living under is under joint ownership, you may need to make a decision regarding sole ownership. Alternatively, if it is in the name of you, while the other partner has also contributed to its payment, you may need legal and financial counsel on the matter.
When someone above the age of 18 years who is classified as a non-dependant adult, is staying with you that your Housing Benefit or Council Tax may be reduced. The reason is that the authorities expect them to contribute towards your expenses, even if you do not expect them to.
Can I Claim Benefits When Separated But Living Together?
Yes, you can claim benefits if you and your partner choose to separate as a couple but continue living together. However, if you were claiming benefits as a couple, they may be reduced to single person claims. On the other hand, being separated may make you and your partner eligible for certain other benefits that you were unable to claim before.
If you and your partner were jointly claiming benefits as a couple, it is advisable for you to inform Job Centre and HMRC of the change in your relationship status as you may no longer qualify for the same amount. Alternatively, you may now be able to claim certain other state benefits due to your single status.
If there are children involved, the parent with the main care responsibility of the children will be eligible for a Working Tax Credit if they work 16 hours a week.
If you and your partner decide to confirm your separation (and are not considering it as a trial period), it is advisable to inform the following of your relationship status:
- landlord or housing office
- housing benefit office
- council tax office
- mortgage lender
- gas, electricity and telephone companies
- benefits office
- tax office
- your children’s school (if any)
- bank; in case you have a joint account
- credit companies
- insurance companies; if you have joint policies
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 in 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.
How Much Is A Non-Dependant Deduction From Housing Benefit
Depending on the gross income (this is the sum of their incomes from varied sources before any deductions or tax payments) of the non-dependent adult who is living with you, there will be a reduction in the amount of Housing Benefit that you are currently receiving. The reason for this is that your cohabitant is expected to contribute to your household expenses through their income and savings.
A detailed breakdown of cohabitant’s income bracket and their impact on your Housing Benefit is given below:
|Weekly Deduction: Housing Benefit||Gross Income of Cohabitant|
|£15.95||Less than £149|
|£36.65||Between £149 and £216.99|
|£50.30||Between £217 and £282.99|
|£82.30||Between £283 and £376.99|
|£93.70||Between £377 and £468.99|
|£102.85||£469 or more|
Are There Any Exceptions To Non-Dependent Deductions From Benefits?
Yes, there are certain situations under which despite having a non-dependent adult living with you for an indefinite period of time, no deductions will be made from the benefits you currently claim. These are classified below on the basis of different situations:
In the case of a partnership:
- either of the partners (or both) is (are) registered as blind
- either or both of them are getting Attendance Allowance, the care component of Disability Living Allowance, the standard or enhanced rate of the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment, or the Armed Forces Independence Payment
In case of Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support:
There will be no deduction from either of the state benefits if the non-dependant person living with you is:
- below the age of 18 years
- below the age of 25 years and on Income Support or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or income-related Employment Support Allowance
- currently on a work-based training for young people and receiving a training allowance
- a full-time student or student nurse;
- recently released from hospital after a period of more than 52 weeks;
- in legal custody,
- a homeowner or renter of a property
- currently on Pension Credit
- a student working during the summer
- mentally disabled
Can My Partner Stay At My Home Without Paying Council Tax?
Whether or not your partner/girlfriend/boyfriend/friend(s) need to pay council tax while staying over at your place depends on the duration and nature of their stay. If they have their own place and a council tax bill to their name, they may stay over weekends or even a few weeks at your place without affecting your council tax bill or any discounts that you are eligible for such as council tax reduction due to single occupancy.
However, should their stay be extended enough or frequent enough that your home becomes their main residence, you may lose your single-occupant discount if you were previously eligible for it. If they don’t have another property to declare as their main residence or they don’t have a council tax bill to their name, you might lose your council tax discount due to their extended stay.
If your partner spends more than 6 months in a year at your place, they may consider adding your home as their main residence and applying for a second home discount on their own premises. For this, you may require to consult your respective local council offices to learn about each council’s taxation and discount schemes in this regard.
What Is A Single Person Discount?
If you live alone or are the only adult in the household, you are eligible for a 25 per cent discount on your council tax bills (irrespective of your income or savings). This is a single person discount on council tax. To avail of this discount, you must inform your local council office of your circumstances and apply for Council Tax Reduction so that your bills may be adjusted appropriately.
If your former partner continues sharing premises with your despite the end of your relationship, you may be eligible for a full council tax. However, if only one of your continues living on the premises, you may be able to claim a single person discount on your council tax and reduce your expenses.
Living together for benefits claims is generally found out through the use of residential addresses, bank accounts and council tax payments. What individuals need to keep in mind is that they need to pretend about a relationship status to claim benefits as (a) only means-tested benefits are reduced with the dissolution of a relationship (b) they can continue living together despite being separated and still be able to claim individual benefits.
Can I claim benefits if I live with my partner?
Yes, you can claim benefits if you live with your partner. However, the DWP will take both your incomes and savings into account while considering your eligibility for benefits claims.
Can someone stay with me if I claim housing benefit?
Yes, someone can stay with you if you claim housing benefit. However, if you are living as a couple, both of your incomes and savings will be taken into account for a means test regarding benefits claims.
Does living with a partner affect Universal Credit?
Yes, living with a partner affects Universal Credit as you will be required to make a joint claim under which both your incomes and savings will be taken into account for a means test.
Can I claim Universal Credit as a single person if I live with my partner?
If you are married and live in the same house you will be asked to file a joint claim for Universal Credit. If you are not married or sharing a house, you may be able to file separately.
What happens if I move in with my partner?
If you move in with your partner, they may lose their single occupancy council tax benefit and your incomes and savings may be considered as joint for benefits claim; however, you may be able to claim a higher amount of benefits as a couple as compared to when you were single.