Press release

UK Nationals arriving from Sudan to have access to benefits

From Monday next week those arriving from Sudan, including UK nationals and those with a valid UK immigration status, will be exempt from residency tests to ensure they can access benefits, social housing, and homelessness assistance on arrival in the UK.

Emergency regulations, which come into force on Monday 15 May, will ensure UK nationals, Irish nationals and those with Home Office leave which provides recourse to public funds, who left Sudan as a result of the violence, will be exempt from the residency tests and therefore be able to access benefits and services faster on arrival in the UK.

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Mel Stride MP said:

This has been a cross government effort, and we have responded at pace to the fast-changing circumstances so that those arriving from Sudan, including UK nationals, can receive the support they need.

As we turn to the next phase of our response, we stand ready to support those who need help as they arrive in the UK, and these regulations will enable us to provide access to benefits and services as soon as possible to those who are eligible.

Following the escalation of violence in Sudan, the Department for Work and Pensions, the Department for Levelling up, Housing and Communities, and His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs have been working with other government departments to ensure a consistent approach in supporting those arriving in the UK, including UK nationals.

Some of these individuals may require access to welfare benefits and this urgent legislation exempting those arriving from residence tests will ensure that those who need it can access benefits and, where needed, homelessness assistance without delay.

Most arrivals will be able to move quickly on to their onwards destination, either their own home or that of family and friends. When arrivals do not have immediate accommodation available, the local authority may provide emergency overnight accommodation and then support people to move on. The changes made today will help people access the support they need to secure settled accommodation.

If individuals need to access benefits upon arrival they can apply through

Baroness Scott, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, said:

I’ve seen first-hand our proud record of supporting refugees and stand by the UK’s commitment to supporting British nationals arriving from Sudan from day one.

Councils are well versed in supporting people fleeing conflict and have a duty to make sure no family is without a roof over their heads.

“We are working closely with local authorities to ensure that reasonable costs associated with the repatriation effort are met.

Jim Harra, HMRC’s Chief Executive and First Permanent Secretary, said:

We’re working across Government to ensure that people coming from Sudan are able to support their families as soon as they arrive. Introducing these measures will allow families to access the help they need, including Child Benefit.

Those currently still in Sudan and unable to return to the UK should check the guidance from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

If currently in receipt of a benefit and unable to return to the UK, they should contact their Work Coach, the relevant disability benefit helpline, or the relevant Local Authority for housing benefit if it is safe to do so. DWP will look to take a flexible and understanding approach where individuals are currently unable to return to the UK from Sudan.

Further Information

The government has legislated to ensure it can provide support for those arriving in the UK from Sudan as quickly as possible. Those arriving in the UK from Sudan in connection with the violence which escalated on 15 April 2023 in Khartoum and across Sudan will be exempt from the residency tests for:

  • DWP means-tested benefits, including Universal Credit, Housing Benefit, and Pension Credit
  • Disability and Carer benefits
  • Child Benefit
  • Homelessness assistance
  • Social housing

This means that individuals will be able to access these benefits and services when they arrive in the UK, where they meet all other eligibility requirements.

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Published 12 May 2023