Social welfare

United Kingdom

Country Report: Social welfare Last updated: 24/04/24


Refugee Council Visit Website

The law provides access to social welfare for beneficiaries of international protection,[1] although practical difficulties are encountered.

Social welfare is provided to beneficiaries under the same conditions and on the same level as for nationals, although public housing may be restricted to those with a history of living in a particular area, so beneficiaries who move away from dispersal areas may encounter problems.[2] The laws do apply to all. The main authorities responsible for granting social assistance are the Department for Work and Pensions, (national government department) administered by local Job Centres. The provision of social welfare is not tied to a requirement to reside in a specific place or region.

Beneficiaries face various difficulties in accessing social assistance such as difficulties in opening a bank account, outlined in research conducted by the Refugee Council and British Red Cross.[3] Since 8 January 2018 the Residence Permit has the National Insurance Number printed on it,[4] this was done to reduce delays in making welfare benefit claims. The issues relating to opening bank accounts and finding enough money to secure private rented housing (which require an upfront fee) remain unresolved. A parliamentary debate in March 2020 discussed many of the key difficulties experienced by newly recognised refugees in general as well as the Red Cross report.[5]




[1] Home Office, Public funds : caseworker guidance, 5 October 2023, available at:

[2] Citizens Advice, ‘Getting on the waiting list for a council home’, accessed 24 March 2024, available at:

[3] Refugee Council, Refugees without refuge: Findings from a survey of newly recognised refugees, September 2017, available at:

[4] Minister for Immigration, Answer to parliamentary question, 5 December 2017, available at:

[5] Asylum decisions (support for refugees) debate, 4 March 2020, available at:

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection