Host of Ukrainian refugees says it's ‘unfair’ they are missing out on backdated benefit pay due to key worker mistake

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A HOST of Ukrainian refugees said it was ‘unfair’ they are missing out on backdated benefit pay due to a mistake by a case worker.

Hilary Graham, 74, threw open the doors to her vacant Southsea apartment to a family of six refugees from the war-torn country - made up of three adults and three children.

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The family, who arrived under the Homes for Ukraine scheme on April 26, thought they had applied for Universal Credit when a key worker from city family-support charity The Roberts Centre came to the address two days later.

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Mum Olena KhrystiukMum Olena Khrystiuk
Mum Olena Khrystiuk

But mistakes in the application have meant the two mums and three children they have between them have missed out on payments.

The application was approved on June 11 but when the first payment arrived to each woman it was not backdated - leaving them out of pocket around £1,000 each.

At a meeting at Portsmouth Job Centre, they were told the key worker had not done the initial application correctly.

The host was also unhappy she was not told she could have submitted her own bank details in the interim which would have allowed backdated payments to June 6 - when the refugees submitted their bank details - not July 7, when the Department of Work Pensions (DWP) issued the payouts.

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An appeal to retrieve the backdated pay made by Ms Graham was then rejected, leaving the host, who lives in Gosport, considering going to a tribunal.

She said: ‘I feel I have no option as the decision is unfair, inaccurate and goes against the whole spirit of the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

‘The decision not only results in several weeks loss of benefits for both the mothers but also means they will not now qualify for the first cost of living payment.’

Hilary also said DWP made an error in not including mum Olena Khrystiuk’s two children.

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A DWP spokeswoman said: ‘We are grateful to those supporting Ukrainian evacuees in any way that they can. To ensure people get the right support, a welcome pack on in Ukrainian and English explains how to claim benefits, get a National Insurance number and also includes advice on finding work.

‘Ukrainian evacuees on Universal Credit are supported by a dedicated jobcentre work coach to restart their lives through employment opportunities, including specialist support for complex needs.

‘A work coach is now supporting Ms Khrystiuk as she resettles in the UK, ensuring she claims all to which she is entitled, to support herself and her family.’

The government department added: ‘The decision came back on July 6 stating DWP cannot backdate. This is because the application for Universal Credit was not actually completed until June 7. The key worker from The Roberts Centre had misinformed the host that the claim was submitted on April 28.

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‘The host has then subsequently appealed this decision which has since been rejected. Our guidance does not allow backdating for this reason.’

The Roberts Centre subsequently told The News: ‘The host and family have been informed that the family will receive all the funds they were entitled to and will receive them as soon as possible.’

Ms Graham said she was told the money will not be backdated though.

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