If a benefits office believe you are living together...

This page is for you if you receive benefits or tax credits and are having trouble because a benefits office believes you are living with your partner as a couple when you aren't. We want to help you get what you are entitled to and avoid all the stress and upset that problems like this cause.

If you are living with your partner as a couple, you must claim any benefits as a couple. The benefits office will take both of your incomes and savings into account when working out if you are entitled to benefits.

What counts as living together?

You do not count as living together unless you are living together in the same home as a couple.

People are often told that if their partner stays over 2 or 3 nights a week that it counts as living together. It does not. Others are told that if they are still living with their ex, even though they are not a couple, that they must still claim benefits as a couple – this is also not true. If you have been told something different by the DWP, HMRC, or housing benefit office, don’t panic. We will show you how to sort it out.

My partner stays the night a lot but we haven’t moved in together…

Just because your partner stays the night with you, even if they stay most nights, it doesn’t mean you are living together. If your partner still has a home somewhere else where he or she pays bills and keeps their things, then s/he clearly doesn’t live with you.

If you have been contacted by a benefits office because they believe you are living with your partner when they haven’t actually moved in, you will need to show them that your partner doesn’t live with you. Usually the easiest thing to do is to prove s/he lives somewhere else. Give the benefits office evidence of any rent, mortgage, council tax, or other bills s/he pays at their home. If your partner has a driving license or is the registered owner of a car, these documents are excellent evidence as you are legally required to keep the address on them up to date. Evidence of important post like phone bills or bank statements that are sent to their home address will also help.

When you give the agency the evidence, get a receipt or if you are posting it get a certificate of posting from the post office (this is free). If your benefits have been stopped, ask for them to be reinstated. Ask how long that will take and make a note of it, along with the name of the person you spoke to and the time and date. If your benefits aren’t reinstated by the date you were given, phone the agency and chase it up.

We have split up but still share the same home as we can’t afford to move out...

Depending on your circumstances, one or both of you should make a new claim in their name only. You will need to prove that you are no longer living as a couple. This means that, although you are both still living in the same home, you no longer sleep in the same room, eat together, buy food together, do each other’s washing or ironing, or pay for things as a couple (for example, you should be able to show that you pay your half of the rent etc, even if you are paying it to your ex). If you used to have a joint bank account, you should close it. You should let your friends and acquaintances know that you are no longer a couple.

It can feel like it makes very little sense to live like this, particularly if you have children together, but this is how you have to make it work if you are to be entitled to benefits.
It can be quite difficult to prove some of these things. You should expect a benefits officer to come round to check on your arrangements. If you have difficulty convincing the benefits office of your situation, get help from an adviser.

We have split up and moved out...

If you have split up and now live in separate accommodation, make a new claim in separate names. Use the calculator on the Turn2us website to work out what help you might each be entitled to (Benefits calculator).

If you were claiming any benefits as a couple, inform the relevant office you have split up and are making a new claim in your own name.

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