Benefits and Entitlements

The Facts:
Recognised refugees, and those with Humanitarian Protection status, have the same social and economic rights as UK citizens. They are entitled to access full medical treatment, housing, education, and employment. They also have the same responsibilities as UK citizens and are obliged to conform to UK law.

Potential issues and where to find support.

Many refugees are on low incomes as a result of experiencing difficulties in accessing the job market and will therefore be entitled to receive support from the state. Some refugees may be unaware that they are entitled to such support or will not know where to go to receive it. Mentors who feel their mentee is entitled to receive benefits and is not doing so already may want to explain how the system works, what they are entitled to and how they can access it.
The following is an outline of what benefits are available. However, it is useful to know that the local Jobcentre Plus has personal advisors able to help refugees.

Low Income:
Income support:
Income Support is an income-related benefit for people aged from 16 years up to age 60 that are on a low income. The minimum level varies according to specific circumstances.
Usually, to get income support you must be unemployed or work for less than 16 hours a week. If you have a partner they must work for less than 24 hours a week. Income support is for those people who are not expected to be looking for work in order to receive benefits to supplement a low income. Amongst the people who can claim income support are carers, single parents, people aged 60 or over and people who are ill or have a disability.
You cannot claim income support if you have savings over £8,000 (or £12,000 if you or your partner are 60 or over). If you are a couple, your combined savings must be less than the limit. The savings rules are different for people in residential care.   You cannot claim income support if you are claiming job seekers allowance.

Claiming income support:
To claim Income Support phone your Jobcentre Plus office, Jobcentre or social security office. You can get details of the areas covered by Jobcentre Plus offices and the local claim numbers from your local office. To find your nearest office go to the Jobcentre Plus website at http://www.jobcentreplus.gov.uk or alternatively look in the phone book under Jobcentre Plus.

Jobseeker’s Allowance
This is paid to people who are unemployed and are expected to look for work. An amount based on past national insurance contributions can be paid for up to 6 months regardless of how much you have in income or capital. An income-based amount can be paid, based on rules simliar to those for income support.
Claiming Jobseekers allowance: Jobseeker Interviews
To claim jobseekers allowance (JSA) you need to visit your local Jobcentre to get a claim form and make an appointment for a New Jobseeker Interview.
At the interview, an adviser will:
•   make sure you understand the rules for JSA
•   discuss the kinds of work you are looking for and the best ways of finding a job
•   give you information about jobs, training and other opportunities
•   check that you have filled in your form fully and given us all the information we need.
To get JSA you must have a Jobseeker's Agreement. You and the adviser will make this agreement at the interview, and you will both sign it.
The Jobcentre will provide extra assistance at the interview if required and so long as they are notified in advance.  For example if you would prefer a private room for your interview or would like someone to help at the interview, such as an interpreter.
To continue receiving JSA it is necessary to visit the Jobcentre every two weeks to confirm that you are still entitled to JSA. An advisor will discuss how your job search is going and assist you with your search.

Government Employment Programmes
Those who are eligible for benefits and have been registered unemployed for six months or more are eligible for government-funded employment programmes.

New Deal

New Deal is a Government programme that aims to give unemployed people the help and support they need to get into work. Everyone on New Deal gets a personal adviser who is their point of contact throughout the programme. The personal adviser takes the time to understand the individual person - their experiences, interests and goals - so a plan can be prepared to get them into a suitable job.
There are different types of new deal designed to suit different people:
-Young people (18-25)
-25 plus
-50 plus
-Disabled people
-   Lone parents
-   Partners
-   Self- employment
-   Musicians
For more information on the new deal go to http://www.newdeal.gov.uk or call 0845 606 2626 for the 7day per week information line.

Work based learning for adults
Work Based Learning for Adults (WBLA) is a training programme - for people aged 25 and over who have been unemployed long-term. It is aimed particularly at those who are at risk of exclusion from the job market. Contact your local Employment Service office for more information. There are a number of specific elements:-
•   short job focused training
•   longer occupational training
•   basic employability training to help those at greatest disadvantage, such as people with literacy and numeracy problems
•   support in setting up self employment (including test trading).
If you are on the scheme you get a weekly allowance equivalent to the amount of benefit you were receiving plus an extra weekly premium of £10.
For more information contact your local Job Centre Plus.

Tax credits
Two tax credits became available from 6 April 2003: the working tax credit and the child tax credit.
Child tax credit
This is for people who look after a child under 16 (or under 19 in education). The amount that you get depends on your income and personal circumstances. You may be able to get extra credit if you have a disabled child.
Single people and couples who are responsible for a child are likely to qualify for the credit if they have an annual taxable income of up to £58,000 - this income limit may be higher if you have a child under 1 year. Child maintenance is not counted as part of your income.
Working tax credit
This is for people who are in work. Usually you must be over 25 and work for at least 30 hours a week. You can get WTC if you work 16 hours a week or more and are:
•   aged 16 or over and responsible for a child
•   aged 16 or over and disabled
•   aged 50 or over and returning to work after receiving specified benefits.
The amount you get depends on your income and personal circumstances.
To claim the tax credits, or to get more information go to the HMRC website https://www.taxcredits.inlandrevenue.gov.uk
Alternatively you can call their tax credit helpline on 0845 300 3900 (0845 603 2000 in Northern Ireland).

Grants and Loans
Integration Loan.
This new loan scheme is available to those granted Refugee or Humanitarian Protection status, and their respective dependants, after the 11th June 2007.
The new loan scheme is interest free, with gentle repayment terms. It is intended that the loan will be spent on items and activities that aid integration such as:
-   Vocational training (if not available through Job Centre Plus)
-   Deposit for accommodation
-   Buying essential household items
-   Purchasing tools of a trade
The amount of the loan depends on personal circumstances and the intended use of the loan. Amounts vary from £100 (min) and £1000 (max). The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will pay and collect the loan. Repayments will not normally start until six weeks after the loan is issued.
Application forms can be downloaded from:
Questions about the loan scheme should be directed to:
integrationloan@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk or phone the Border and Immigration Agency Integration Loan Team on 020 8196 5440

Social Fund
The Social Fund gives grants and loans to cover one-off expenses. People on specified means-tested benefits may be able to claim help with:
•   funeral expenses;
•   maternity expenses.
People on income support or income-based jobseeker’s allowance may be able to get:
•   a community care grant for specified travel expenses or to help disabled or homeless people to set-up home, or disabled people to stay in their home;                                
•   budgeting loans to help buy things like furniture or household equipment.
People who need help urgently because of a disaster or an emergency may be able to get a crisis loan.
You can claim help from the social fund at your local social security or Jobcentre Plus.

Housing benefit and council tax benefit
This is for people who are on a low income and pay rent or council tax (rates). To claim these benefits your savings must be £16,000 or less.
To claim housing benefit, council tax benefit, or rate rebate contact you local housing authority.
To find your local housing authority, go to the Public Register of Housing Associations at http://www.housingcorp.gov.uk
Alternatively contact your local authority and they can give you the details of your Housing Authority.  To find your local authority visit www.ukonline.gov.uk for an A-Z of local authorities.

Health benefits
People can receive assistance with NHS costs on age or medical grounds or if they are on a low income.  Entitlement is dependent on circumstances, however you may be entitled to received:
•   free prescriptions
•   free or reduced dental charges
•   free eye tests and vouchers for glasses.
For more information about to health benefit entitlements please see the Time Together Health Factsheet.

Useful Websites
Department for Work and Pensions: http://www.dwp.gov.uk
HM Revenue & Customs: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk
Jobcentre Plus: http://www.jobcentreplus.gov.uk
Citizen’s Advice Bureau: http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk

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