How many nights can a partner stay over if you are on benefits? I'm worried my friend is going to get into trouble.

(72 Posts)
LucyLouLou Thu 12-Aug-10 15:31:20

I'm not asking for me, I don't have a partner and I'm not on benefits (pregnant, so things might change a bit when I've had my DD, but that's neither here nor there lol).

Let me preface this by saying that I have absolutely no intention of reporting my friend for benefit fraud here, so this is not a fishing expedition for that purpose. However, I am a little bit worried that she is accidentally committing fraud because she is not aware (as such) of the rules surrounding her partner staying in the house.

She has a baby DS with her DP. They have been sort of on and off a bit since during the pregnancy (DS is now 10m old) and he has never officially lived with her and DS AFAIK. Lately though, DP has been staying with my friend most nights of the week. None of his mail is registered at the address and if you looked him up on the electoral register (if he's on it) you would find him living at his mum's house. To an outside observer though, you would think he was living with my friend.

The problem is, she does not work (does intend to get a job though, two days a week so she can still claim benefits) so she claims housing benefit, council tax benefit and the like, and does this as a single person. I haven't said as much to her, but I think she's in danger of getting caught out with her DP being there as much as he is. She thinks that because he is still registered as living at his parent's house, she isn't breaking the rules. I think she's wrong, but I don't know enough about the laws to tell her this definitively. I think I heard somewhere that she was allowed to have him stay over 3 nights a week, but I'm not sure how current or correct this might be.

I'm worried if she is in the wrong and was to get caught, she would have no way of defending herself. He is the father of the child, his name is on the birth certificate, and while I don't know what tactics investigators use to find out whether people are living the way they say they are, I'm pretty sure him leaving for work daily from her house would incriminate her.

Please someone tell me the rules. Like I said, I don't want to report her, but I do want to be able to tell her she's creating trouble for herself. I really get the impression she doesn't know she's making a mistake.

Thanks for any help and sorry for how long this is !

dizzy55 Thu 12-Aug-10 21:08:35

hi, From memory I think its only 2 nights a week. google the gov website on benefits, or ring a benefits helpline anoymously. good luck

StewieGriffinsMom Thu 12-Aug-10 21:13:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MrsMorgan Thu 12-Aug-10 21:17:35

The two nights rule is a myth. Your friend could get interviewed under caution for benefit fraud, and given what you have said, she would be found guilty.

toccatanfudge Thu 12-Aug-10 21:20:58

I believe there are a fairly longish list of "criteria" that they look at to determine whether someone is "living as a couple" or not......and as MM says - I belive the 2 nights rule is a myth as well.

MrsMorgan Thu 12-Aug-10 21:23:58

Basically, if it is someone who you were previously living with as a couple then you have literally no chance in hell of persuading them that you were not now living together, and they won't give a toss if it was one night, once.

Having said that, I asked them then, if that basically meant that if I met a bloke in a pub one night, and took him home, I was comitting benefit fraud, and was told yes.
Obviously that is ridiculous, but it is what that said.

abouteve Thu 12-Aug-10 21:24:06

Mrsmorgan, think this came up last night. (btw I claim minimum benefits and don't have a partner so no vested interest). If a man isn't contributing to the household and doesn't live there permenantly then is it still fraud? I cannot see how it can be. Although morally he should be living there if they have a DC together.

Someone I know is in this situation. He has his own place and she lives in hers and claims benefits as a single parent. 2 DC's together and very much a couple but don't live together. If he contributes it's in the way of holidays and nights out, stuff for the DC's so very similar to OP's friend. It sounds OK officially at least.

MrsMorgan Thu 12-Aug-10 21:27:10

Tbh eve I think there would be little chance of that not being classed as benefit fraud if he ever stays over there.

I am not saying that I think they are doing anything wrong, but thats how it will be seen by the dwp.

SrStanislaus Thu 12-Aug-10 21:28:05

I dont think there is a rule about how many nights as such. After all a partner can be working nights and only in the house during the day.wink

The real test is whether the partner is contributing anything to the household. That is paying bills in their name or making regular payments toward household costs. These can of course only be checked if there is a report to the fraud unit.

there is 'no 2 nights a week rule'

what the benefits agency look at is whether they are living as if they are a cohabiting or married couple.so if he stays over 5 nights a week, buys the food, contributes to the household bills etc then they well think they are 'living together'

Someone I know is in this situation. He has his own place and she lives in hers and claims benefits as a single parent. 2 DC's together and very much a couple but don't live together. If he contributes it's in the way of holidays and nights out, stuff for the DC's so very similar to OP's friend. It sounds OK officially at least

that is benefit fraud. living apart deliberately in order to claim as a single parent is fraud.

toccatanfudge Thu 12-Aug-10 21:37:05

but you see it is possible (although very hard to convince them) to claim as a single parent while still living in the same house are your exP/H while waiting for one of you to move out.

Thankfully I didn't have to go through the long form with the compliance officer when I applied for my IS as she saw sense as soon as I explained the situation (that I'd found a house, I qualified for the rent assistance scheme......but only once I was actually getting my IS).

abouteve Thu 12-Aug-10 21:38:50

PMSL that a one night stand might be deemed to be contributing to the household income.

People do this all the time. He's registered as living with friends/parents but really living with single mum who claims full benefits. If contributes cash, no record and not found out unless someone dobs them in or the DSS sits outside observing which does happen when someone dobs them in as they need evidence.

I can remember this happening to friends years ago and, no I didn't report them, and the DSS telling them if they see them staying over more then x no. of nights they will have benefit stopped. I also think they are more interested in people claiming full HB, IS i.e not working at all.

abouteve Thu 12-Aug-10 21:44:08

I don't think it is to claim benefits, primarily, it's more that they get on better living apart. It's only CTC/WTC that is claimed rather than full benefits. I know a few people in this situation, and I don't see how the DSS (or whatever they go by) can argue.

LucyLouLou Thu 12-Aug-10 22:12:17

Thanks everyone for your answers.

I will have to double check with her whether he is contributing financially. AFAIK, the situation as it stands is that he is staying there, rather than living there. To the compliance people, I'm sure that would not mean much, but I guess there is a distinction?

That said, I would assume he buys food and probably things for the LO. What he has there by way of clothing and toiletries etc, I don't know, but I'm pretty sure he's there for the majority of the week, so it would follow that he has quite a lot of things there.

I really don't think my friend is deliberately trying to cheat the system, I think she's more misunderstanding the way the law works. Again, I don't think that would work in her defence if/when compliance found out, but I simply don't think there is malice in her claim.

My worry is that if someone finds out and she has to pay back the money from HB and CTB, it will go back to at least when her son was born, which is going to leave her with thousands of pounds in debt. I don't know what to say to her. Maybe I need to find out more information, but I have a feeling she's already put herself in the shit....

mamatomany Thu 12-Aug-10 22:20:45

It's 0 nights on a regular basis, however the actual defining factor is financial dependancy if she can prove that she can live independently without his financial input and he is paying council tax else where then that is all that matters.
It's bills that matter not a bit of food or toiletries, is he paying the phone/sky/rent and is there a papertrail ?

toccatanfudge Thu 12-Aug-10 22:22:47

that's not true that it's 0 nights.

I could (after going through an extremely long form where they check EVERYTHING about your living arrangements) have claimed IS while still living in the same house as exH....

mamatomany Thu 12-Aug-10 22:22:52

But I f I was you I would keep out of it, the messenger always gets shot and if they are doing something wrong then they will rightly get caught and if they aren't then it's none of your business.
If you start poking your nose in and then a week later a letter drops through the door you'll be public enemy number one for snitching, even if you didn't.

mamatomany Thu 12-Aug-10 22:24:06

different situation toccanfudge and as you say they go through both parties finances with a fine tooth comb.

toccatanfudge Thu 12-Aug-10 22:27:32

not just finances - anything and everything that could show you were living together as a couple they go through. Do you eat together, cook together, do you have seperate cupboards for food, do you have separate rooms to sleep in............it's MUCH more than just the finances.

As it's perfectly possible for one partner to pay for all the bills and have everything in their name - but still be absolutely living together.

solo Thu 12-Aug-10 22:31:41

I thought it was 3 nights a week.

mamatomany Thu 12-Aug-10 22:33:13

"As it's perfectly possible for one partner to pay for all the bills and have everything in their name - but still be absolutely living together."

Yes that's what i said.

toccatanfudge Thu 12-Aug-10 22:39:05

yes - so just going through the finances with a fine tooth comb could make it look like it was only one person living there - hence they don't JUST look at finances - infact finances are pretty easy to check it's the other stuff.....

mamatomany Thu 12-Aug-10 22:48:13

So how do they check whether you eat together or have sex then, I am now intrigued lol

toccatanfudge Thu 12-Aug-10 22:52:25

well - they can check that you have seperate food cupboards/shelves in the fridge, whether you have your own room or not (obviously doesn't stop you hopping into each others beds wink).

But I have heard that they are quite thorough and quite in depth with their questioning.......and certainly when I saw the size of the form they fill in I was VERY pleaeed when I explained the situation and she realised that as soon as I had my IS sorted I would be out of the house like a shot lol

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