‘Normally lives with…’ for SDP purposes

Cl’s partner went abroad late last year to act as a carer for a relative on a temporary basis.. Prior to this they were getting CA for looking after my cl. but this stopped after the partner had been outside the UK for about four weeks.

To cut a long story short the cl has been refused the SDP on their ESA (and no transitional SDP on a subsequent UC claim) as DWP hold that they didn’t actually live alone.

This seems to hang on the definition of ‘normally lives with’ in the ESA regs. The couple are not intending that this is a permanent separation and do not expect it to exceed 52 weeks as per the ESA regs. In practice my cl met all the conditions for the SDP in that they lived alone, no one was paid CA and they got the requisite PIPS award but DWP seem to be maintaining the (slightly absurd?) view that the cl does not live alone despite the fact that the partner is well over a thousand miles away in southern Europe.

Is there a definition of ‘normally lives with..’ or any case law to back up the proposition that the cl. lives alone (albeit temporarily) for SDP purposes?

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