On 20th March 2019 Baroness Lister of Burtersett asked the Government “what steps they are taking to prevent destitution among newly recognised refugees in the light of the British Red Cross Report Still an ordeal, published in December 2018.” The Bishop of Chester, Rt Revd Peter Forster, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, is it not the 28 days that people have to make arrangements, when they change from being asylum seekers to being refugees, that is the difficulty? It takes me more than 28 days to open a bank account if I am on good form, and there are lots of other things that they have to think about. Could the period not be extended beyond 28 days? Universal credit often does not kick in for at least 35 days. The 28-day period is just too tight for people in these circumstances.
Baroness Williams of Trafford: I certainly recognise the point that the right reverend Prelate makes about 35 days for universal credit, because the move-on period is 28 days but the post-grant appointment service contacts the refugee at the start of the 28 days. The early findings are actually very positive on this new initiative. The majority who attend appointments get benefits before the 28-day period and, actually, on the subject of the 35-day universal credit payment, the advance UC payment as well.