To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 13 March 2019 to Question 232095 on universal credit: refugees, what steps her Department is taking to reduce the time taken to process claims for universal credit.
2 April 2019
Additional support is in place to assist refugees in making a claim for Universal Credit: refugees who are able to provide their biometric residence permit or evidence of their refugee status can be fast tracked through the habitual residency test process; a work coach can use other methods to identify a person where someone does not have ID, including the use of biographical questions; Measures are in place to make payments through other methods where someone does not have a bank account, including post office card accounts or the Payment Exception Service, and a work coach can help people through the process of setting up a bank account where appropriate.
Claimants that are required to provide evidence of their right to reside are subject to the Habitual Residence Test (HRT). The HRT contains two elements: an assessment of the legal right of residence and an assessment of factual habitual residence. We have made this process quicker for refugees by ensuring that refugees who provide documentation which confirms their legal right to reside in the UK will satisfy the HRT and that refugees are exempt from the assessment of factual habitual residence if the Home Office have granted them leave to remain in the UK with recourse to public funds.
New claimants, including refugees, can apply for a Universal Credit new claim advance so they do not have to wait to receive financial support. This is an advance of up to 100% of their total expected award, which is paid back over a period of up to 12 months. In the Autumn Budget 2018, we announced that from October 2021, the payback period for these advances will be extended further, to up to 16 months.
Staff also have access to information on services and support available in their local area for vulnerable claimants, including refugees.