What does 'Partner' mean in terms of DWP? Martin uses this term in his guide to UC - can he clarify?

I'm concerned that people might be missing out because they've been misled. I'd allege that DWP has 'simplified' things by using a general term of partner. However, I'd allege there has been mission creep and it seems they are now using the term 'partner' for any couple living together - boyfriend and girlfriend and so on. However my understanding is that for a couple to submit a joint claim under the law they must be 'living together as a married couple' (It used to be Living Together as Husband and Wife - LTAHAW - and now will presumably include Living Together In a Civil Partnership). But the essential element is that couples who make a joint claim do so in circumstances where they are living together in a relationship that is THE SAME AS MARRIAGE.  

E4093 of Government Rules states:
'To be treated as LTAMC the relationship has to be the same as that of a married couple. Marriage is where two people join together with the intention of sharing the rest of their lives...It is a stable partnership, not just based on economic dependency but also on an emotional relationship of lifetime commitment rather than one of convenience, friendship, companionship or the living together of lovers. If the evidence does not suggest that is it is more likely than not that the relationship between two people has the emotional quality that characterises a married couple's partnership... they are not LTAMC'  (My italics and bold - but from that I understand that - unless they've made a mutual lifelong commitment - they are not a 'couple LTAMC' - they are just a couple of people who should  each make a single claim if they haven't both agreed they are financially etc etc dependent on each other.)

A couple can live together without being classed as a 'couple LTAMC': GOV.UK Chapter 4 'Universal Credit – Living Together as a married couple' - E4036: The fact that two people, who are not married to each other, are members of the same household does not necessarily mean that they are LTAMC [Living Together as a Married Couple] and so a couple. A relationship may resemble LTAMC but consideration of its origins may show it to be something quite different. Additionally, the DM should consider: the facts and circumstances that exist while the couple are living together and what their future plans are [ etc]. 

It is clear by the way that couples who have sex aren't necessarily classed as married (see ref to 'lovers' at E4093), so no-one has to worry about if they share a bedroom and anyway I believe asking about that is a breach of Human Right to Privacy. It would help a lot of people if DWP -  and websites meant to help claimants - didn't use the catch all term of partner but told people clearly the legal difference when making a single claim or joint one is that you're a Couple LTAMC or Living Together As a Married Couple - or Civil Partnership. As opposed to being a couple where they haven't both made a lifelong commitment to the other (and of course if one thinks they have but the other doesn't then by definition they are not 'living together as a married couple', but rather one of them is under an illusion. Loads of people share (indeed young people only get the shared housing allowance), some might even have sex or be friends and go out together, but we all do know the difference between that and when you decide: you are my 'It' for life and I will share my life and my all with you until one of us dies. 

It is wrong to force people into dependency on someone who has not said yes to lifelong commitment, it is wrong for the government to require the girlfriend's or boyfriend's financial details - and a lot of people just won't give them if all they are is a temporary couple. It was concerning to hear a young woman (on Radio 4) who'd been made redundant say she had no access to UC because she shared with her guy. She'd paid in, but was misled into thinking that she was not entitled to anything because 'they only make one household payment'. DWP does only make one household payment, but if you have a single claim (and she did if she wasn't in a lifelong committed relationship, though she wasn't asked that because very few people know about this) then DWP would make it to her if she'd been made redundant and the boyfriend she shares with now but perhaps without being in 'a relationship akin to marriage' was working - she's entitled on her own behalf as a single person under the law. Just like she paid her own taxes and NI. If this terrible anomaly in UC isn't shared and made known and sorted it will mean a lot of people in very desperate and dependent straits. And of course DWP need to change the fact there is only payment per household and clarify what a household is while they clarify what they mean by Partner. Also when they say 'couple' they must qualify what sort of couple it is if it's relevant in law - ie are we talking about just a couple for the time being or a lifelong committed Couple LTAMC?

The statutory law this comes from is the Welfare Reform Act 2012 whereby a couple who set up in a household are married or in a relationship that is the same as marriage make a joint claim for benefits. And the rest can be found in GOV.UK on Universal Credit Rules. But  I'd allege DWP using the cover all term 'partners' is misleading and it needs to change so people don't lose out on what they are entitled to. Claimants have to declare if they're sharing with someone else of course, but if they aren't married or in a relationship that is the same as marriage, then it seems to me they must make a single claim. In fact, common sense tells you, that if a couple made a joint claim when they were not in a relationship that was committed for life with all that implies in terms of financial dependency and a certain 'something extra' (Santos v Santos) then they are surely lying on their form. Which claimants must not do. DWP and all agencies need to clarify the the law so claimants can follow the law exactly and make a correct claim that gives them what they are lawfully due.

Could Martin and his team and the organisation they promote (EntitledTo?) clarify the position and explain why they just talk about 'partners' and being a 'couple' when what is needed is the legal definition of being a 'couple LTAMC' to require you to do a joint form? Otherwise you surely do a single one that is private to you?

I am not a lawyer, I cannot give legal advice nor take any responsibility for outcomes if anyone takes notice of what I've said, nor can I help anyone beyond doing this to alert people about what might affect them. It is high time this use of the term 'Partner' DWP is doing to mislead (as I'd allege) was made more widely known and now is the right time to do it with so many people being forced onto UC - and soon they'll be forced into homelessness and into food banks. UC is bad enough: doing this to claimants is shameful and wrong and needs changing. 






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Comments

  • Oh go on i'll bite ! basically times change and therefore the DWP's definition of "partner"has changed with the times...hows that for an answer? and yes i only read half the post, but welcome to MSE OP (that's what mse have told me to say !) :):):)
  • sassy_one
    sassy_one Posts: 2,685
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    A partner is someone who lives with you on a more so basis each week than not.
    Someone who shares the same bed as you.
    Someone who shares finances with you.
    Someone who you are in a relationship with.
    In simple terms, someone you live with in a relationship format.
  • TELLIT01
    TELLIT01 Posts: 16,243
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    sassy-one said:
    A partner is someone who lives with you on a more so basis each week than not.
    Someone who shares the same bed as you.
    Someone who shares finances with you.
    Someone who you are in a relationship with.
    In simple terms, someone you live with in a relationship format.
    Now I'm waiting for the OP to ask if a married couple who occupy separate beds at times shouldn't be classed as a couple for benefit purposes.

  • calcotti
    calcotti Posts: 15,696
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    To be fair to OP they raise an interesting point - although it would have been better to have expressed it more succinctly.

    I confess that I had never studied chapter E4  and certainly not noticed the bit in E4036 that says " Additionally, the DM should consider the facts and circumstances that exist while the couple are living together and what their future plans are." E4019 further emphasises the importance of future plans "two friends sharing accommodation will rarely have the intention to share accommodation for the rest of their lives but two people who are LTAMC would be expected to have the intention of sharing their lives together in the long term".
    Information I post is for England unless otherwise stated. Some rules may be different in other parts of UK.
  • tomtom256
    tomtom256 Posts: 2,191
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    But then two friends, wouldn't be a couple.
  • calcotti
    calcotti Posts: 15,696
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    tomtom256 said:
    But then two friends, wouldn't be a couple.
    I think the point is that the friends may be sexual partners but have no long term plans to live together and the point that OP is arguing is that in that case they shouldn't be treated as a couple whereas in practice they might be.
    Information I post is for England unless otherwise stated. Some rules may be different in other parts of UK.
  • tboo
    tboo Posts: 1,379
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    edited 21 May 2020 at 6:25PM
    Many moons ago I attended a fraud training course with the DWP, we got told amongst other things that a marriage certificate does not signify you as a couple, we were also told you can be a couple living apart but still deemed to be together.

    So the DWP make the decisions not the people involved

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  • What about a married couple who have made a seperation contract and are actually living apart and have no sexual contact at all

  • poppy12345
    poppy12345 Posts: 17,721
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    What about a married couple who have made a seperation contract and are actually living apart and have no sexual contact at all


    If you are not living together then you're not a couple.
  • Muttleythefrog
    Muttleythefrog Posts: 19,690
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    edited 25 December 2023 at 10:15PM
    I think the problem is when the state tries to rigidly define people's relationships... something that also happens for immigration purposes. This could all be avoided if we eradicated the ridiculously outdated concept of marriage and did away with joint claims. Otherwise there'll always be a massive grey area about assumptions, assertions and prejudices surrounding what constitutes a marital type relationships and whether it involved living together. Some of the strongest relationships of life intent I've seen are between people who have no intention of living together or getting married. 
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