Disabled refugees allowed access to disability benefits

Last updated October 3, 2016Press release
A man attends a meeting with a Refugee Action advice worker.

Disabled refugees will now be able to claim disability benefits when they are granted sanctuary in Britain after a two-year restriction on accessing the support was lifted.

Many refugees, including those invited to rebuild their lives in the UK through the Government’s resettlement schemes, have impairments, war-inflicted injuries or health conditions that make their lives even tougher.

But due to an eligibility rule that requires people to have lived in the UK for two of the last three years in order to claim disability benefits, disabled refugees, including many children, have been denied access to this crucial support.

Refugee Action, along with a number of other organisations, has been urging the Government to lift this harmful restriction which prevents disabled refugees and their families contributing to their new communities.

The Government has now decided not to appeal against a court ruling earlier this year that found the two-year ‘past presence test’ for Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payments was discriminatory.

The case involved families supported by the Refugee Council and the British Red Cross, who were represented by Child Poverty Action Group.

Stephen Hale, chief executive of Refugee Action, says:

“We’re pleased the Government has seen sense on this. At long last disabled refugees will be able to access disability benefits when they are granted sanctuary.

“For too long, disabled refugees, who in many cases have been prioritised for resettlement because of their disabilities, have been denied this crucial support.

“We’ve heard from torture survivors left unable to begin rebuilding their lives without these payments and families, who have fled unimaginable horrors, struggling alone to care for children with complex needs.

“It’s positive the Government has listened and that disabled refugees and their families will be able to receive this much-needed support.”

Media enquiries

For more information, please contact Refugee Action’s press office.

Notes on Refugee Action: With more than 30 years of experience resettling refugees in Britain, Refugee Action is currently working with local authorities up and down the country to resettle Syrians on the Government’s Scheme (VPRS) and refugees from other countries arriving through the Gateway Programme.

Our Let Refugees Learn campaign aims to ensure that all refugees have the opportunity to learn the language of their new home.