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Help with money if you've arrived from Ukraine

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Help with money if you've arrived from Ukraine

You will be able to make a claim for Universal Credit but as benefits may take time to set up, when we make our first welfare visit to you, we will provide an initial £200 per person via a pre-payment card that can be used in supermarkets, or to withdraw money from cash points. You will not need a bank account to use this money. If you run out of money before your first Universal Credit payment, you can ask for extra money in advance that you will then pay off over the next 12 months. 

You will be able to make a claim for Universal Credit (UC). This is a national benefit paid to people who are out of work or on low pay. You will be paid monthly into a UK bank account. Apply for universal credit online at gov.uk. Information on how to set up a UK bank account is further down this page.   

Universal Credit can be used to pay for your living expenses, including food, clothing, transport, household bills and anything else you want to buy. Your Universal Credit payment is made up of a standard allowance plus more if you have extra needs, for example, if you have children, a disability, a health condition that prevents you from working, or need help paying your rent. (When living with your sponsor you should not be asked to pay rent.)    

You can get help to make your Universal Credit claim by calling Citizens Advice Help to Claim for free on 0800 1448 444 (8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday).  

You can also get advice about claiming Universal Credit online, including by web chat on the citizens advice website.

If you cannot apply online, visit a local Jobcentre Plus office. Find your nearest Jobcentre Plus office on our employment page.

If you have children, you may also be able to apply for other benefits or support, including: 

  • Child benefit: if your child is under 16 (or under 20 if they are in education or training) 
  • Healthy start vouchers: if you’re more than 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under 4, these vouchers can help you buy healthy foods and get free vitamins 
  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA): if your child is under 16, has difficulty walking, or needs to be looked after more than a child of the same age who does not have a disability 
  • Free school meals are provided at lunchtime in schools and other education settings 

The person helping you with your Universal Credit application can help you work out what other benefits you might be able to claim. 

Opening a UK bank account 

To receive benefit payments, you will need to set up a UK bank account. This is because the benefit money is paid directly into a bank account. 

You can set up an account at any bank with UK offices, including online banks such as Monzo, Starling or Revolut – however, these are more likely to charge you to join. Standard bank accounts in the UK do not usually charge a fee to set up. You may be able to apply online or by visiting any high street bank. It is likely this will be a basic current account without the ability to have an overdraft (debt).  

To open a bank account, you will likely need to provide proof of identity, your visa, and your sponsor’s address. Example of ID documents are your passport, your biometric residence permit (when you complete it), or a letter from a responsible person – for example a GP, teacher or social worker. We can also provide a letter for this purpose when we make our first welfare visit to you. You can find out more information about opening a bank account on the citizens advice website. If you are unable to open a bank account you can still receive your first UC payment through an alternative Payment Exception Service – speak to Camden Citizens Advice Bureau at the details above. 

Once an account is created, you will receive a bank card at your sponsor’s address by post. You can use this to make contactless payments in shops or to withdraw money from cash points. Most banks will also provide internet banking. 

Some banks are setting up a specific application process for Ukrainian refugees. One example is Natwest who have set up a dedicated webpage to give Ukrainian refugees the information they need to support their application, including translated guidance in Ukrainian and Russian.