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Response to Work and Pensions Committee Inquiry into Universal Credit and Five Week Wait

Zoe Dexter

We have extensive experience in assisting our clients to apply for Universal Credit (UC), as the vast majority of our clients who are granted leave to remain are required to apply for UC in order to have any kind of basic income. The people we work with are rarely able to work when they receive refugee status, and so need to apply for UC to have income and usually simultaneously submit medical certificates in order to be assessed for their capability for work.

At the point of making an application for UC, most of our clients still have severe mental health issues, and possibly physical health issues, and often have no or limited English. They are vulnerable as people who have survived torture, modern slavery or other human rights abuses. They are additionally vulnerable as they are usually applying for UC having experienced abject poverty in the UK; most apply for UC having been in asylum support provided by the Home Office under Section 95, 98 or 4(2) of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. These forms of support are destitution-based subsistence money with weekly rates of £36.95 - £37.75 and require the applicant to receive no other forms of financial support and to have no savings. Our client group therefore have multiple, complex and intersecting vulnerabilities, which are relevant to their experiences of applying for UC.

In response to the Work and Pension Committee’s call for evidence on the five-week wait for a first payment of Universal Credit, we have responded, focusing specifically on UC claimants who have recently been granted leave to remain having sought asylum in the UK. 

Click on the download link below to read the full submission.