Undisclosed Partners: Sexual Relationship
DWP used to consider the couple’s sexual relationship as one of the criteria for determining LTAHAW but this is no longer the case. The couple’s sexual relationship is of little help in deciding whether they are living together as husband and wife or living together as civil partners. There may be no sexual relations in a marriage or civil partnership and sexual relationships of a casual nature, where neither partner has any lasting commitment to the other, are a common feature of contemporary life.
You must not ask any questions about a couple’s sexual relationship. If the customer introduces the subject, you should take note of any information volunteered but should bear in mind (and explain to the customer) that it is unlikely to have any relevance to the question of whether they are living together as husband and wife.
Appeal tribunals sometimes ask customers about their sexual relationships, however, it remains our policy that you must not ask such questions. If a tribunal asks you why you have not established the position you should say that our internal policy, in common with that in DWP, is not to ask about this side of the relationship.
In one particular appeal case the Social Security Commissioner said that where there has never been a sexual relationship between the parties, strong alternative grounds are needed to reach the conclusion that the relationship is akin to husband and wife. However, absence of a sexual relationship at anytime where there has been one in the past is not itself indicative that the couple are not LTAHAW.
Where the customer’s sole objection to your conclusion is that they have no sexual relationship with the suspected partner or they appeal against a decision on these grounds you should seek further advice via your TALLO from Technical Advice Line