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by Kirsteen Paterson
21 March 2022
Ukraine refugees to get benefits support 'from day one' in the UK under emergency change

Ukrainian refugees at Lviv railway station. Credit: Ruslan Lytvyn/Alamy

Ukraine refugees to get benefits support 'from day one' in the UK under emergency change

Habitual residence test scrapped for those fleeing the Russian invasion

Refugees arriving from Ukraine will have immediate access to social security under the terms of emergency regulations to be put forward by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Universal Credit payments, the Personal Independence Payment and other benefits will be open to new arrivals from as early as this week.

Those fleeing the Russian invasion will be eligible “from day one”, Work and Pensions Secretary Thérèse Coffey says.

The move means new arrivals will not be subject to the habitual residence test and will not have to wait up to three months before becoming eligible for income-related benefits.

Translation services will be available to help newly-arrived refugees with phone applications.

Child Disability Living Allowance and Carers Allowance are also amongst the benefits covered by the change.

For those who meet the criteria, contributions-based Employment and Support Allowance and Jobseekers Allowance will also be available. Additional face-to-face appointments will be available for those who need it, according to the DWP.

The measure has been welcomed by Major Nick Coke, the Salvation Army's refugee response coordinator, who said: "With offices on the ground in Ukraine and the border countries providing emergency food and shelter, the Salvation Army sees first-hand the trauma those displaced by war have experienced. It is fitting that they receive targeted help when seeking refuge in the UK."

The change follows criticism of the UK Government for the speed and manner of its response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. While countries neighbouring Ukraine have absorbed millions of refugees, the UK has enforced a visa applications scheme for those with relatives already living here. 

On Friday, a second scheme opened to allow UK residents to sponsor visas for non-family members.

Coffey said: “My priority is that people fleeing the unimaginable horrors in Ukraine to seek safety here get the support and help they need from day one to move forward in their lives immediately.”

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack commented: "The UK Government has acted swiftly to ensure Ukrainian refugees arriving in Scotland from as early as this week can claim welfare and jobs support as soon as they get here.

"Scotland and the whole UK has a strong and proud history of welcoming refugees and we are doing everything we can to support people arriving from Ukraine."

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