This guide outlines how you can access housing, benefits, education, training and employment after you have been granted refugee status.
Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)
This is a very important document and will be your main identity document. Your National Insurance Number (NINo) should be on the back of the card; if it isn’t, you can apply here. You can report your card lost or stolen here. If you haven’t received a BRP, you can report it here.
As a refugee you now have the right to work and access public funds and services. This means you can access benefits and help with housing. If you have been living in accommodation provided by the Home Office, you will receive a letter explaining that you will need to leave within 28 days.
Asking for help from the council
You can ask your local council for help, but you are not guaranteed to be given housing. If you have children under 18 who live with you, you will be housed. If you have mental or physical health issues, make sure you provide evidence of these. You can search here for your local authority.
If you are offered accommodation from your council, you may be given temporary accommodation first, which is usually a bed and breakfast. This will be paid for by housing benefit, which your council will help you apply for. You may also have to pay service charges, which you will have to pay for out of your benefits or wages.
Shelter have a clear guide explaining the process of asking for help with housing.
Stonewall Housing offer support for LGBT+ people who need help with housing.
Refugees at Home are an emergency housing service connecting people seeking asylum and refugees to hosts with spare rooms.
Advicenow have made a series of videos explaining the process of applying for housing and benefits, and also dealing with poor quality housing and eviction.
You have the right to rent privately and can apply for benefits as soon as you have refugee status. Many private landlords do not rent to people claiming benefits and may write “No DSS” on the advert but some do. It is important to find a landlord who will accept benefit payments if this is how you will be paying rent. Shelter have a blog explaining the action they are taking against landlords refusing to rent to people on benefits.
Your benefits can be used to pay your rent, there is more information on how to apply for benefits below. You can find out how much money for renting you can receive here. Generally, if you are under 35 you are entitled to the “Shared Accommodation” rate and if you are over 35 you can receive the “One Bedroom” rate, but if you apply for housing at the council, your housing officer will tell you what you can get.
Depending on the type of accommodation you're in, you may need to pay a service charge or utility bills, which you will need to pay for out of your benefits or wages. You can find out more about setting up bills here.
If you have been receiving asylum support payments, these will stop after 28 days. You will need to open a bank account if you don’t already have one. Many high street banks will require proof of address which many newly granted refugees don’t have. Banks like Monzo and Monese do not require this and are easy to open an account with but you will need a smartphone. Refugee Council have a guide explaining using bank accounts in the UK.
You can apply for Universal Credit (UC) which is the main benefit in the UK. You can apply for Universal Credit online. You will be asked to verify your identity online (many newly granted refugees aren’t able to do this, but you can call them to book an appointment instead). You can find out how much you’ll be paid here. Universal Credit can also be used to pay your rent.
Citizens Advice have a helpline you can call for help to apply. The first payment takes about 5-6 weeks. You can apply for an advance loan, but you will need to pay this back a bit at a time from your future Universal Credit payments or from your wages if you start working.
If you have any ongoing physical or mental health problems that might prevent you from working, make sure you have evidence of these and include this information on your application. Citizens Advice and Disability Rights UK have more information about how Universal Credit assess your health needs and the evidence you will need to provide. If you have a short-term illness you may need to ask you GP for a sick note.
It is important to remember that you report any change of circumstance (for example, you move accommodation, someone starts living with you, you start working, or you start receiving another benefit). You can find out more here.
If your health problems mean that you have difficulties with daily living or getting around (or both) then you may be able to receive Personal Independence Payments as well as Universal Credit. There’s a guide for how to complete it.
If you have children, you can apply for Child Benefit which can be backdated to the date you first claimed asylum. You must claim within three months of receiving the Home Office letter granting you leave as a refugee.
You may be able to receive help with the cost of medication while receiving benefits. You can find out more here.
If you are caring for someone, Carers UK have more information on the benefits you may be able to apply for.
If you are renting you will need to pay council tax. However, if you are receiving benefits you can apply for a council tax reduction. This will need to be done through your council. If you type your postcode in here it will take you to the right place to apply.
You can also apply for a refugee integration loan for rent, household products, or education and training, which you will need to pay back, however this can take 3-6 months to receive.
Turn2us have information about further benefits and grants you may be able to apply for.
There is a limit on the total amount of benefits you can receive, you can find out more using the government calculator.
Education, training, and employment
Student Action for Refugees have put together a list of universities who offer scholarships, bursaries, fee waivers and reduced fees to help asylum seekers and refugees access higher education.
Refugee Council can support you into employment and understand the barriers refugees face in trying to access work in the UK.
Micro Rainbow provide support for recently granted refugees to access benefits and prepare for employment. They also run a fellowship programme for LGBTQI+ people seeking asylum and refugees to gain skills and experience in immigration law, communication, and leadership.
HIMILO is a training provider, delivering vocational training courses, careers advice and employment opportunities.
Breaking Barriers help refugees in London acquire the knowledge, confidence and experience to get stable, fulfilling employment.
Refugee Support Network provide a range of services which help 14–25-year-olds seeking safety in the UK to get into, stay in, and do well in education.
Asylum Welcome assist people seeking asylum and refugees over the age of 16 who wish to continue their education and gain qualifications so they can work in the UK.
The British Red Cross offer emergency support to refugees and help with family reunification.
Mental health support
It is common for people to experience mental health difficulties when they have just been granted refugee status. Please do reach out to these organisations if you need support with your mental health and always remember to speak with your GP.
Emotional Support: 116 123
UK-wide mental health support service.
0300 123 3393, email@example.com
A confidential support helpline for people who identify as Transgender, agender, gender fluid and non-binary.
0300 330 5468
Mon & Fri 8pm-12pm
London-based mental health support service.
Helpline: 020 3301 9850
Counselling, advocacy and psychosocial support for LGBTQ+ people between 11 and 25, based in Hackney.
020 8986 4016, OffCentre@family-action.org.uk
Mental health support service for LGBTQ+ people.
01273 234839, firstname.lastname@example.org
A safe space for anyone to discuss anything, including sexuality, gender identity, sexual health and emotional well-being.
0300 330 0630
Open 10:00-22:00 every day
Papyrus, HOPELINE UK
Confidential support and advice service for people under the age of 35 who are experiencing thoughts of suicide, or anyone concerned that a young person could be thinking about suicide.
0800 068 4141, email@example.com