Money Wellness
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Money and benefits support for refugees and asylum seekers

Most refugees in the UK can claim benefits because the government agrees it isn’t safe for you to stay in the country you left. Different rules are in place if you’re an asylum seeker but you’ll both get some help with money.

Find out what financial help refugees and asylum seekers can get from the government, including support if you’re rejected, and additional resources.

Refugees in the UK

You’ll only be recognised as a refugee after being officially granted asylum. If you haven’t been recognised yet, you’ll get limited support as an asylum seeker, which we cover in more detail in the next section.

Your asylum support will stop 28 days after getting your biometric residence permit in the post. If the government found you somewhere to live, you’ll need to move.

Refugees will get a national insurance number in the post, which means you can now work or apply for benefits e.g. universal credit.

As soon as you’ve been recognised as a refugee, it may be a good idea to:

  • open a bank account
  • apply for benefits – there might be a gap between your asylum support and your first benefits payment
  • find somewhere to live - contact your local council or housing office as soon as possible. They can talk you through your options and help you find somewhere to live. This might be temporary if there’s a long waiting list.

Benefits for refugees in the UK

The benefits you can apply for will depend on your personal circumstances e.g. unemployed and looking for work or have a disability, but you might be able to get:

  • universal credit
  • pension credit
  • housing benefit
  • council tax support
  • attendance allowance
  • carer’s allowance
  • carer’s element of universal credit
  • disability living allowance (for a child under 16)
  • personal independence payment
  • child benefit

Find more information about how to claim benefits if you’re a refugee.

Grants and loans for refugees in the UK

If you’re over 18, you can also apply for a refugee integration loan that you can use for rent, household items, or education and work training.

Couples can get up to £780 while a single person could get £500. You’ll need to pay it back but it could help you find your feet.

You can also apply for a sure start maternity grant if you have a child under 16, are pregnant, or just had a baby or became responsible for a child under one year old. Because this is a grant, you won’t need to pay it back.

You might also be eligible for grants from UK charities.

Financial support for asylum seekers in the UK

Although you can’t claim benefits until you’ve been accepted as a refugee, you’ll still get some help from the UK government as an asylum seeker.

You can get somewhere to live and money to help you pay for essentials e.g. food and clothes, and your children can go to a free state school.

You’ll also get free healthcare on the NHS so you can see a doctor or go to hospital. This includes free prescriptions, dental care and eye tests, and help paying for glasses.

The government will find you a home which could be a flat, house, hostel, or bed and breakfast anywhere in the country. You can’t pick where you live.

Each person in your family will get £49.18 each week (£8.86 per person if you get meals with your housing). This is loaded onto a special debit card called an Aspen card.

If you’re pregnant or have a child aged one to three, you’ll get an extra £5.25 each week to help you buy healthy food. You’ll also get an extra £9.50 each week if you have a baby under one year old.

You can apply for a one-off maternity grant for £300 if your baby is under six months old or if you’re due to give birth in the next 11 weeks.

Financial support if you've been refused asylum in the UK

If you’ve been refused asylum, you can still get some support if you’re homeless, can’t buy food and have a reason why you can’t leave the UK.

You can ask for short-term housing and help with some healthcare costs e.g. prescriptions, dental and eye care.

If you’re given housing, you can also get a payment card for food and toiletries. You can’t get it without a house, and you won’t be given cash.

Find more information about how to apply for short-term support.

Help and advice for refugees and asylum seekers in the UK

For more information and advice, there’s lots of UK charities who can help.

British Red Cross, Migrant Help, the Refugee Council and Asylum Aid are all great resources.

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