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Labour criticises gaps in government's support for Ukrainian refugees

Lewisham West and Penge MP Ellie Reeves raises case of a mother forced to rely on food banks while waiting for her universal credit payments

A LABOUR MP has criticised gaps in immediate support for Ukrainian refugees, raising the case of a mother who was forced to rely on food banks while waiting for her universal credit payments. 

Lewisham West and Penge MP Ellie Reeves said that the woman, who had fled Ukraine with her two-year-old son, had been left “without anything.”

In a question to Home Secretary Priti Patel in the Commons on Monday, the MP said: “While she’s waiting for the universal credit payments to come through, she’s been left without anything and she was queueing for food and nappies.

“How can this be right when they have fled horror and war. What will the Home Secretary do with the [Department for Work and Pensions] to ensure that every Ukrainian refugee who arrives here gets the support that they need immediately?”

Describing the case as “very very serious,” Ms Patel said that there was a cross-government task force dealing with the issue. 

She said that she would follow up on the case directly, admitting that it “illustrates how the system does need to come together at the local level.”

The Home Secretary was also urged once again to drop rules preventing Ukrainian children from getting visas under the sponsorship scheme if they are not travelling with their parents. 

Labour MP Dame Diana Johnson pressed Ms Patel to look at the issue again, highlighting that “all the necessary paperwork is there to ensure those children are travelling with their parents’ consent.”

Ms Patel hinted that a change in the rules could be implemented, telling MPs: “We are absolutely looking at this, and there is a lot of work taking place.

“We are going to make changes.”

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