Member of household & income counts or not?

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    A claimant has told us she got married in May, but her husband did not move in with her ’till July to give him time to sort his affairs out.
    The new husband’s earnings are high and if included took them out of benefit.

    A decison was made that he could be counted as a member of the household under reg 21 (1) from the Mon following the marriage even though he wasn’t living there for a while, and therfore his income should be included.

    This decison has been challenged. Are we reading 21 correctly?

    Chris Robbins

    I don’t think you are.
    21(1) defines who is or isn’t a member of a household by reference to treatment of temporary absence.
    In your case you have a person who I assume has never been a member of the household. He may intend to join in the future, but until he does so I do not see how you can treat him as a member of her household.


    “Couple” as defined in S137 (1)(a) vof the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act means:

    “a man and woman who are married to each other and are members of the same household;”

    “Household ” is not defined, but its interpretation was considered in R(SB)4/83 and CIS/671/1992.

    The Commissioner held at paragraph 19 of RSB)4/83

    “… I say this, however: a person who has, and lives in, his own separate home cannot reasonably be regarded as being a member of someone else’s household”

    Similarly it was held at pargraph 4 of CIS/671/1992

    “It seems to me from, the dictionary definition of “household” referred to in the Pizzey case and indeed as a matter of what might be said to be obvious, that something more than mere presence in a place is necessary before those present can be said to constitute a household; there must be, I should have thought, some collectivity, some communality, some organisation. As was said in Santos v Santos (1972) 2 All ER247 at 255 “household” is “…. a word which essentially refers to people held together by a particular kind of tie, even if temporarily separated ….”. Furthermore, it appears to be of the essence of “household” that there is something which can be identified as a domestic establishment. In CSB/463/1986 it was said (para 10) “It is a question of fact in each case which turns on the evidence concerning the domestic establishment maintained; the test is sociality not structive”. So one might have a domestic establishment in for example-a hotel or boarding house – but there must be a domestic establishment.”

    This all points to what Chris was saying, i.e. because the claimants husband has not yet joined her household, for the purposes of S137 they are not yet a married couple.

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