Financial advice and support

Cover of essential costs when you arrive

The Government scheme provides £200 per guest as a one-off payment to help with essential costs as guest arrive. However, Government guidance gives flexibility to local authorities to decide what additional support may be needed. Hosts and guests in our district have fed back that guests are running out of money in their first month while longer-term arrangements are being established (whether that is applying for Universal Credit or finding work, both of which can have a lead-in time of a number of weeks before an initial payment is made).

In response to this feedback, we are adding a further £150 payment to each guest – totalling £350 per guest. Hosts whose guests have received the previous £200 payment have been emailed with information about how guests can access a £150 top up. Guests who have not yet received the historical £200 payment will automatically receive the new amount of £350.

If you have an urgent question about this payment, please contact ukrainepayments@scambs.gov.uk.

More ways to manage your finances

Please see the information below for more advice on different financial options that you may need. 

How to apply for a biometric residence permit (BRP)

A biometric residence permit (BRP) can be used to confirm your:

  • identity
  • right to study
  • right to any public services or benefits you’re entitled to

You can apply for a BRP once you have arrived in the UK.

How to open a UK bank account

To open a bank account in the UK, you usually need proof of permanent address. NatWest and RBS are now advising that for guests from Ukraine, this requirement for proof of permanent address may not be necessary – especially where a visa can be presented instead. We understand from local hosts that Lloyds will accept a letter of authority from hosts for guests who do not otherwise have the required evidence. Other banks are advising that they have colleagues ready to help new arrivals (such as HSBC and Santander).

There is no expectation of guests to have set up a UK bank account prior to their arrival in the UK, but it would be a good idea to set up a bank account as soon as you can after arrival, once you are settled in.

 

How to use your £350 pre-payment card

Once guests have arrived, you will receive a pre-paid card from us with the initial one-off £350 payment to help with essential costs. Please note that you will need to activate your card in a situation where a PIN is needed, for instance in a supermarket, so that it can be used thereafter for contactless payments in places such as on public transport where PIN verification is not always available. Full information about how to activate your card and check your balance will be sent to you at the same time as the pre-paid card is sent.

How to claim Benefits in the UK

You can access cash and certain benefits in the UK. What you can claim will depend on your age and circumstances, but if you're eligible, you can make a claim straight away.

In the UK, the State Pension age is currently 66 years old. This means that, if you're younger than this you need to make a claim for working age benefits, such as Universal Credit. If you and your partner are both over State Pension age, you can claim Pension Credit or other means-tested benefits such as Housing Benefit.

If you have a long-term health condition or a disability, you might be able to claim Attendance Allowance if you're over State Pension age, or Personal Independence Payment if you're under State Pension age.

Usually, everyone making a claim is subject to the habitual residence test (HRT), however, all resettled Ukrainians are exempt from this test.

For benefits that are means-tested, your income and capital (your assets) are considered. The capital should be valued to reflect the market value and it must be accessible to you as someone making a claim. So, if you do have capital but aren't able to access it or the market value of your assets has been affected, this should not be considered.

Child Benefits

Child Benefit is a universal benefit for parents or guardians that issues monthly payments equating to £21.80 per week for the eldest child and £14.45 per week for each additional child.

You can usually claim Child Benefit if you are the parent or guardian of a child or children under the age of 16 (or under the age of 20 if they stay in approved education or training). You need to apply for Child Benefit by filling in a Child Benefit claim form and sending it to the Child Benefit Office.

Child Benefit is usually paid every 4 weeks on a Monday or Tuesday.

If your child’s birth was registered outside the UK, when you send your claim form, include your child’s:

  • original birth certificate
  • passport or travel document used to enter the UK

How to claim Universal Credit

The UK has a welfare system which is designed to help those who face financial hardship, or who have specific needs. Your local Jobcentre Plus will be able to help you find out which benefits you may be able to access, or check online.

You can apply for Universal Credit online, which is a payment for those of working age (18 and over), to help with your living costs if you’re on a low income. To apply online you’ll need:

  • your bank, building society or credit union account details
  • an email address
  • access to a phone
  • proof of identity (for example: a passport, debit or credit card)

If you are in education, you should check the guidance about claiming Universal Credit as a student.

There are two ways to get help with your Universal Credit claim. You can either call the Universal Credit helpline or use the Help to Claim service.

Calls to the Universal Credit helpline are free - Telephone: 0800 328 5644 13. You can get free support from trained advisers to make a Universal Credit claim.

The Help to Claim service is provided by Citizens Advice and is confidential. They will not share your personal information unless you agree. 

When making a Universal Credit claim you will need to enter your bank account details. You should use your own bank account details and ensure that you are the only person with access to your account.

Get an advance on your first payment

If you need help to pay your bills or cover other costs while you wait for your first Universal Credit payment, you can apply to get an advance. The most you can get as an advance is the amount of your first estimated payment.

You can apply for an advance payment in your online account or through your Jobcentre Plus work coach.

Food banks and food hubs

Your hosts may wish to support you with food and other essentials, but they are not required to do so. If you do not have food or other essentials provided and do not have access to money to buy what you need, please visit our Foodbank and Food Hubs webpages. Foodbanks and Food Hubs exist across the country, and many offer other essentials as well as food. Some Foodbanks will require a voucher.

If you need a voucher to visit the local Foodbank, please email duty.communities@scambs.gov.uk and our colleagues can provide you with a voucher. 

Support with bills for those aged 65+ 

Ukrainian guests aged 65+ who are struggling with food and fuel bills can access support via the Government-funded Household Support Fund, which is open to eligible UK residents. Support can be provided within a few days, with longer-term support possible if needed. Applicants, who must have been born before September 30 1956, can apply by calling 01223 221929 or visiting the Household Support Fund page on the Cambridgeshire County Council website.

How to apply for a Government Loan to help settle in the UK

Additional financial help is available from the Government for Ukrainian guests as they settle in the UK in the form of a Refugee Integration Loan. This is given to help pay for things such rent deposits or rent, household items, or education and training for work.

Guests must be over 18 and a refugee, have humanitarian protection or be a dependant of a refugee or someone with humanitarian protection. They can apply for the loan either by themselves or with their husband, wife or partner. If applying alone, then they can borrow between £100 and £500, or if applying with a partner, then the amount is between £100 and £780.

Eligibility criteria for a Refugee Integration Loan can be checked on the www.gov.uk website.

Refugee Integration Loans are interest-free – and those who receive them only pay back what they borrow, but they must make regular payments. Repayments will not start until 6 weeks after receipt of the money and the repayment amounts will be dependent on circumstances. Successful applicants will be sent a loan agreement which will tell them how to repay the loan.

Ukrainian guests should contact their local Jobcentre Plus before applying for this loan to see if they can get help with the costs associated with training, education, work, living or childcare; they may be able to get this help for free. If successful in their application, they tell Jobcentre Plus they have been given an integration loan.

The loan must be used for things that are essential to help guests to settle into UK society, including:

  • a housing deposit, rent payment or moving costs
  • essential items for the home
  • training or education
  • basic living costs (such as food or household bills)
  • work clothing and equipment.

They cannot be used to pay for debts or travel costs for family members to come to the UK and successful applicants may be asked to prove how they have spent the loan. The loan will not usually affect any income-related benefits unless applicants have more than £6,000 in savings. Applications must be made online.

Cambridgeshire Local Assistance Scheme

The Cambridgeshire Local Assistance Scheme could support you with access to low cost reused and refurbished household items, clothing and food vouchers. Please contact clas@cambridgecab.org.uk for further information.

Furniture

The Besom in Histon & Impington on the How Are You Cambridgeshire website can help with sourcing and supplying furniture, equipment and household items as well as with other practical hands-on support.

Free clothes are available for Ukrainian guests at a pop-up clothes shop in Sawston

The shop urgently needs donations of good quality winter clothing - warm coats, raincoats, gloves, trousers, sweaters, scarves, woolly hats, etc. Donations of unopened new socks and thick tights will also be very welcome. 

Donations can be dropped off at Sawston Free Church between 4-6pm every Thursday and Friday. The shop is open for Ukrainians to choose clothes only on every second and fourth Friday of the month from 4pm to 6pm. These are the only times that it is possible to see and get clothes.

Please could hosts tell their friends about the opportunity to make donations of winter clothes and tell their guests about the shop.

Christmas Holiday activities and food

Cambridgeshire County Council will be running a Christmas Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme which is being funded by the Department for Education. Families in receipt of income-related free school meals can access a holiday scheme for up to 16 hours per child and will receive enriching experiences, a meal and snacks daily.

Ukrainian and other refugee families can attend, as well as families struggling financially. 

Contact Details