DWP announces ‘immediate’ benefits for Ukraine Refugees – but there is a five-week waiting period


The emergency laws of today will make it possible for refugees from Ukraine to apply Universal Credit, just like Brits. However, this still means that there is a five-week wait before the first payment. It is expected that thousands will arrive this week.

After two slow-moving ministers created two schemes, thousands of refugees fleeing Ukraine are due to arrive in the UK next week.

Last night, figures revealed that 9,500 family members of people living in Britain were issued visas under Ukraine Family Scheme. Another 50,000 applications are currently open.

More than 150,000 Brits signed up for the Homes for Ukraine refugee program, which opened visa applications Friday.

Today’s emergency laws will be enacted to allow Ukraine refugees to claim support and benefits immediately upon their arrival.

They don’t need to pass a “habitual residence test”There may be a three-month wait before you are eligible for income-related benefits like those offered to people who have entered the UK.

Therese Coffeey, Work and Pensions Secretary said people “fleeing the unimaginable horrors in Ukraine to seek safety here”should be able to get the support and assistance they require “from day one to move forward in their lives immediately”.

They will have to wait five weeks for their first Universal Credit payment. This is what charities call the “food bank” effect.

If they obtain an advance, claimants can be paid quickly. However, this must be repaid from future benefits.

Jonathan Ashworth, Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary hit back “Therese Coffey doesn’t understand her own department’s rules – no one gets access to Universal Credit from day one.

“This is another reminder that the 5 week wait needs to be scrapped.”

Nearly a month has passed since Russia invaded Ukraine, and over 3 million people have fled. Tory ministers were slammed for not matching the EU’s visa waiver scheme and for asking people to attend visa centres in person, a rule now dropped.

New refugees minister Lord Harrington vowed last week: “Next week, we are expecting thousands of people to come”.

Michael Gove, Levelling-Up Secretary, had suggested that the first people under the Homes for Ukraine scheme would arrive by today.

It was not clear how many visas were granted under the new scheme last night. The first official figures are expected to be released shortly.

The UK will allow families to work and live in the UK for up three years if they have been granted visas under one of the two Ukraine programs.

They will have access health care, benefits, support for employment, education and English language tuition.

Homes for Ukraine visa holders will also be given £200 per person in cash on arrival for urgent expenses like groceries, toiletries and clothes.

This matches funding for the previous scheme for people who fled Afghanistan, but has to be paid for out of a £10,500 per refugee pot for councils.

Ukrainian refugees will be exempted from the £624-a-year immigration health surcharge that is applied to other people in the immigration system.

However, it isn’t clear if they will be provided with dedicated mental health care. No10 stated that they could use standard NHS routes.

Major Nick Coke is the Salvation Army’s refugee response coordinator. “We welcome the news that Ukrainians coming to the UK will be able to access benefits immediately and for those who are able, help to find suitable work.

“The Salvation Army has offices in Ukraine and other border countries that provide emergency food and shelter. It is able to see firsthand the trauma suffered by those who have been displaced by war. It’s fitting that they receive specific help when they seek refuge in the UK.”

But an Afghan campaigner yesterday warned the UK still has 12,000 Afghans living in hotels after the Taliban seized power.

Mohammad Asif, 55, the director of the Afghan Human Rights Foundation, said: “Don’t get it wrong, I feel for the Ukrainians.”

But he added: “Afghans still remain in hotels, with no future.

“Here in the UK, Afghans are having a very tough time.

“Many people have been made homeless in England and now we have the resources and money to help others.

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