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Refugees (Integration Loans Scheme)

Volume 461: debated on Monday 11 June 2007

I am announcing that today “The Integration Loans for Refugees and Others Regulations” come into force. Integration loans, will be available to those granted refugee status or humanitarian protection and their respective dependants.

When status is granted, these individuals enter into a period of transition during which most will need to find accommodation, train or re-qualify and seek employment. As part of the integration process an interest free loan with moderate repayment terms will make a considerable impact on their ability to become established in the UK. Applications can be made for loans up to a maximum £1,000 and are designed to be spent on items that we believe will facilitate integration, particularly those related to housing, education and employment.

The scheme will be jointly administered by the Home Office and the Department for Work and Pensions. Only those granted leave to enter or remain after today will be eligible to apply for an integration loan.

With the introduction of integration loans we are now ending the ability of refugees to make a claim for a backdated payment of income related benefits. As well as being a more equitable replacement for the back payments system, we believe integration loans will be an important tool in assisting new refugees and those granted humanitarian protection to establish themselves in the UK.