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Refugees made to suffer further

Published on 30 June 2005

It’s enough to be persecuted or tortured in your home country without having the forces of bureaucracy descending upon when you have fled for shelter to the UK. This is what is happening here to some refugees granted asylum when trying to deal with the Revenue and to be paid what they are due.

efugees who are granted asylum or leave to remain in the UK on humanitarian grounds are deserving of support and are entitled to receive child benefit or tax credits. However, a combination of variable support services and a lack of understanding in the Revenue can make integration into the community harder.

Asylum seekers who are accepted as genuine refugees are entitled to claim benefits from the Revenue for the period beginning with the date that they first submitted their claim for asylum.

Delays and unsympathetic processes within the Revenue and other government departments also create extra burdens for local authorities and other agencies, as well as adding to the distress of individuals who may have come to the UK with no material possessions and may have fled with young children.

We have identified the following areas where process improvements are required, and have opened discussions with the Revenue:

  • An understanding of the different residence statuses accorded to migrants to the UK
  • An appreciation of the need for refugees to keep their most valuable possession (their immigration approval document) with them at all times
  • Clarity and consistency as to what copy documents are required
  • Speeding the process for new National Insurance numbers
  • An understanding of the backdating rules
  • Co-ordination between the two parts of the Revenue dealing with child benefit and tax credits.


The Revenue have acted with commendable speed in relation to the documentation issue and have reviewed and revised their policy following our initial representations. All Revenue Enquiry Centres should now be prepared to verify and copy original documents.

We hope we can now move on to the other areas of concern, so that there can be put in place:

  • A fast track process for refugees, integrated across the child benefit/tax credits/national insurance divide
  • Better guidance given to frontline staff as to their responsibilities towards refugees
  • Careful planning ahead of the introduction of refugee loans later this year.


Contact Name: John Andrews (Contact tel: 0844 579 6700; fax 0844 579 6701)

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