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Friend got me thinking...confused about single parents and partners. Can anyone clarify?

11 replies

twigsblankets · 28/09/2009 18:39

Got chatting to my friend this morning about when a single parent has a b/f, and he wants to stop the night and tbh, we are both confused as to the legislation surrounding the whole 'What constitutes as being in a relationship?' to the govt thing.
I mean, living together as man and wife where it will affect your benefit.

Hope I am making sense.

My friend was quizzed earlier this year, about her 'supposed' relationship with a man. Apparently, it has been noted that he takes her shopping once a week, and she spends a considerable amount of time with him. It was suggested by the jobcentre that they could be classed as being in a relationship as if they were man and wife because they did domestic things together, such as shopping. My friend pointed out that they were not in a relationship, and that this man was her neighbour. The jobcentre then pointed out that to go shopping together for groceries could be used as evidence of her 'relationship', and if she was in a relationship with someone who was spending a considerable amount of time in her home, that she perhaps wouldn't be entitled to full benefit.

Last year, another friend was asked to go to see a 'customer compliance officer' after it had been reported anonymously that she was living with a man.
At the appointment, she was told that partners/boyfriends are legally entitled to stay at the mother's home for 3 nights, without being classed as 'living together'.
When my friend asked the compliance officer to clarify what a 'night' was, the compliance officer didn't have a definitive answer, apart from to say that a night was construed as overnight.
The compliance officer also said that if a partner was to work nights, and only spend 3 nights a week at the mothers home, because he was working the other nights, there was no legislation to say either of them were defrauding the system, since the rules said nights.

Now my friends and I are left wondering what constitutes as living together as man and wife. Is a 'night' between certain hrs when the man does not leave the property?
What if a man was to visit until 1 or 2 am?
Is it down to the discretion or judgement of the compliance officer?
Is it when a man spends a considerable period of time at the woman's house? and if so, what is classed as a considerable time?

Is there any other indicators that suggest that a couple are living together, such as domestic chores like shopping are done together?

Sorry if this is a bit garbled, but being summoned by a persistent DD.

Any help or advice on the legislation would be appreciated.

OP posts:
Niceguy2 · 28/09/2009 18:56

I remember watching a program on this some time back. Unsurprisingly its very difficult to define what a relationship is.

What the compliance officers in the program did was they looked at the wider picture. So yes number of nights was a factor but also other factors such as does the BF have his own place where he is paying council tax, rent etc. Its hard to claim someone is living with you if they have their own mortgage and pay bills on another property despite the fact they spend 3-4 nights a week at yours.

RealityIsAnAuntie · 28/09/2009 19:04

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn

twigsblankets · 28/09/2009 20:00

Interesting responses.

My friend only avoided further interrogation (she felt interrogated) when she truthfully explained that her friend was gay.

I guess I thought there were some solid rules that determined whether you are living with someone or just dating.

Apart from one partner having a mortgage and paying council tax elsewhere on another property, is there any other indicators that your partner is (or is not) living with you?

OP posts:
floatyjosmum · 05/10/2009 20:42

i work with people that deal with benefits etc and they say that there isnt an official amount of time that they can spend over, as in the 3 night thing.
they said that if the bloke has a place of his won and is paying rent, council tax, bills etc there then they arent classed as in a relationship

SarahMac30 · 07/10/2009 00:05

I would say that if he is living in his own place.....such as registered to vote there, bank accounts there etc it cannot be said he is living with you. Nobody has two homes.....oh unless he's in! Seriously can they say different if he has his own home.

ElecTrickorTreatElephant · 07/10/2009 00:12

Same thing at my Uni halls. 3 consecutive nights was easy enough - were his clothes/washbag at the house for 36 hours. If so, he was there 3 days.

It's designed for the 'man living at his parents, actually a Dad, not living with the Mother of his child(ren), and shirking benefits)

Only talking of my sisters experience, you understand.

alwayslookingforanswers · 07/10/2009 00:17

now see when DH and I were getting back together we were told that having their own address (bank, council tax etc etc) wasn't enough "proof" that we weren't a couple.

I think they would have been slightly bemused if they'd investigated us - as while he wasn't contributing towards my household at all (apart from doing the odd spot of housework to help me out) - I was helping to pay for some of his bills out of my lone parents benefits

OldLadyKnowsNothing · 07/10/2009 00:28

I clicked on this thread because my DS and his GF are not living together (he lives with me, she with her mum) and have, after "investigation", been told that he must not stay over with his GF and DS at all or he (because he has a p/t job, and GF's mum claims as a single parent) would become financially responsible for the whole family!

Why is it Ok for a future BF/unrelated male to stay 3 nights and no penalty, but the father of the child, when the parents are a couple but don't live together* can't stay over to help with a sickly baby? This seems absurd!

*They're not sure they want to, and don't want to risk upheaval for their DS should things not work out - they're both young and are being responsible.

Anyway, rant over; I was intrigued by this statement:

"My friend only avoided further interrogation (she felt interrogated) when she truthfully explained that her friend was gay."

In the dim and distant past, a "household" was created by sharing bills, food etc - having sex wasn't actually the issue, as I found out when a (male) flatmate and I both ended up on benefits and they tried to make out we were "living together". From the comments about the helpful neighbour taking someone shopping, that would still seem to be the case. Surely it's no different for gays; or is it just that the compliance officer really is looking to see who's shagging on the dole?

Niceguy2 · 07/10/2009 00:59


That sounds most bizzare. I'd ask them to put that statement in writing. I bet they wouldn't

OldLadyKnowsNothing · 07/10/2009 01:53

I have since received much better advice from MN. [smug ]

But that's the bullshit they were fed by the Compliance Officer.

They're spending more nights here, where there are no nosey neighbours to watch for his car at her house, and they can't threaten my benefits (because DH and I don't get any.)

lindsaygii · 18/10/2009 19:11

The Jobcentre person mentioned in the OP is a bloody idiot. Cut your benefits because you went to the shops with someone my f*cking arse!

Where is this place? Let's all go down there and point and laugh at this clown at their desk...

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