Housing Systems: Combating poverty and sustaining tenancies.


Please note this information is subject to change: please check for updates.

Note: Although Ukrainians fleeing the war are often referred to in the media as "refugees" their immigration status is not "refugee" and so they do not fall under the benefit rules that apply to refugees.  

However the government has set up a couple of schemes that allow Ukrainians fleeing the war to come to stay in the UK temporarily. These Ukrainian nationals will be able to claim benefits.

The Ukraine Family Scheme allows Ukrainians to stay in the UK for up to three years if they are family members of a British Citizen or another national settled in the UK. They can apply free online for a visa. More details from gov.uk here.

The Homes for Ukraine Scheme, allows Ukrainian nationals and their family members to come to the UK if they have a named sponsor. The scheme allows. a route to those who want to come to the UK who have someone here willing to provide them with a home. It will enable individuals, charities, community groups and businesses to volunteer accommodation and provide a route to safety for those forced to escape Ukraine. Sponsors should provide accommodation for as long as they are able, but the Scheme has a minimum expectation of 6 months. Someone is eligible for the scheme if they are a Ukrainian national (or an immediate family member of one) and were resident in Ukraine prior to 1 January 2022.. Details and website to register to help on gov.uk here.

Free UK immigration advice from the Ukraine Advice Project here.

More links to information sites from advice local here.

So not all Ukrainians arriving in (or already living in) the UK will be able to take part in these schemes and therefore claim benefits. We have outlined the rules with regards to Universal Credit below.

Which Ukrainians in the UK can claim Universal Credit?
It depends on their immigration status. Ukrainians are visa nationals, meaning they require leave to enter and remain in the UK, in the form of a visa. Not all visas allow a right to claim benefits.

You will need to ascertain what type of visa a Ukrainian national has.

Arrived under the Ukraine Family Scheme / Homes for Ukraine Scheme

Ukrainians who have come to the UK under these schemes will be able to work, study and access public funds in the UK for 3 years. This means they will be able to claim UC and other benefits.

The Ukraine Family Visa lasts for 3 years. Those who come under the Home for Ukraine Scheme will be granted leave to remain for 3 years. There is as yet no information on whether they would be able to extend this or apply for indefinite leave to remain. 

Those arriving in the UK under one of these schemes are exempt from the Habitual Residence Test, under the Social Security (Habitual Residence and Past Presence) (Amendment) Regulations 2022This means they will not need to wait up to 3 months to be eligible for means tested benefits such as UC.

Note that the Ukrainian national cannot claim a Universal Credit Housing Cost Element (nor HB) in respect of the £350 "thank you payment" as this is paid to their host and is not a rental liability. 

Child Benefit, Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment, Attendance Allowance and Carers Allowance regulations have also been amended so that the Habitual Residence test, and the Past Presence test do not apply, meaning they can be claimed immediately by Ukrainian nationals arriving in the UK under one of these schemes.
Similar amendments have been made to the Regulations for the Scottish Child Disability Payment and Adult Disability Payment.

DWP staff in JobCentres will be available to help claimants claim online, and for face to face help where needed.
Translation services will also be available for online applications.

Arrived in the UK on a visitor visa.

Those who cannot apply under the above schemes but need to come to the UK urgently can apply for a visa for compelling and compassionate reasons.
This appears to be a visitor visa, in which case it would last 6 months, and would not give the right to work or access public funds.

Already living in the UK with a visa

Most visas do not allow access to public funds but it would be advisable to check the details of the particular visa. The government website states that some Ukrainians may apply to change to a different visa, or extend their visa, or apply for indefinite leave to remain.
For advice and assistance they can call UK Visas and Immigration on 0808 164 8810.

Already living in the UK with indefinite leave to remain

They should be able to claim Universal Credit and other benefits. More on  leave to remain on this page.

Family member of an EEA National
They may be able to claim UC if they have applied to the EU Settlement Scheme. If they have Settled Status they will be eligible for UC (as long as accepted as habitually resident); if they have Pre-Settled Status or have applied and received a Certificate of Application then they will also need a "Right to Reside".

How will taking a Ukrainian into a person's home affect their benefits?
The government  will pay a £350 a month "thank you payment" to anyone who takes a Ukrainian individual or family into their home under the Homes for Ukraine Scheme.
In his announcement, Michael Gove said 'these payments will be tax free, and  they will not affect benefit entitlement nor council tax status'. 

Means tested benefits including UC and HB
The £350 a month is not taken into account as income.

Non means tested benefits
The £350 a month will not affect any other benefits.

Bedroom Tax / Local Housing Allowance
As the the Ukrainian national is only living temporarily with the host there is no change to the number of bedrooms to which the claimant is entitled.

Non-dependant deductions
As the Ukrainian national is not considered to be normally residing with their host, they don’t attract a housing cost contribution in UC.

Effect on Severe Disability Premium in legacy benefits
As the Ukrainian national and their family members, if applicable, are living temporarily with the host they are not considered to be normally residing with them. This means that the host will not lose their entitlement to the severe disability premium. This means if they move to UC they may still be entitled to a Transitional SDP Element.

Benefit Cap
The benefit cap rules apply as normal.

Discretionary Housing Payments
There are no changes to the rules concerning entitlement to help through DHPs.

Please keep checking these pages for changes in information.






Useful Tools