New rules for UK housing benefit claimants going abroad

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CHANGE IN LAW: The maximum period is now four weeks for citizens outside the UK.

A CHANGE in UK law means that residents can now only receive housing benefit for a maximum of four weeks if they are out of the country.

Prior to the change in legislation, claimants could have their rent covered for up to 13 weeks. The new rules came into force on July 28, and prevent UK residents from receiving taxpayer aid during long trips.

Those receiving pension credit have also seen their benefits while abroad slashed from 13 weeks to four weeks. Welfare delivery minister, Caroline Noakes, said: “It’s important that the benefits system is fair to those who need it and those who pay for it. 

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“It’s not right that people could be abroad for over three months and still expect the taxpayer to pay their rent back home. “These new rules mean that people can still enjoy holidays like everyone else, but will ensure the system isn’t abused.”

Housing Benefit costs the UK taxpayer almost €30 billion per year, although a raft of reforms have ensured that spending has been reigned in to an extent.

Local housing allowance and benefits rates have been capped, with a resultant fall in expenditure, with an additional €2.4 billion cut expected by 2020/21.

Permanent overseas residents are unable to claim benefits such as housing benefit, pension credit or universal credit, but there are exemptions for those travelling abroad for specific reasons such as family funerals or working in the armed forces.

Should you suspect someone of committing benefits fraud in Spain, call the Benefit Fraud Hotline on 900 55 44 40, or see the website www.gov.uk/report-benefit-fraud

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