The currency in the UK is the Pound Sterling (£). £1 (one pound) = 100p (100 pennies, or pence). Cash is accepted in most places but increasingly people use debit/credit cards to pay for goods and services.
There are a range of banks and you can choose one that suits you best. There are also online-only providers which you can use. To receive welfare benefits or a wage from a job you are likely to need a saving account. It is important that you open an account as soon as possible. There is a range of banks, ‘building societies’ and ‘credit unions’ which can be accessed for a saving account. More information about Credit Unions can be found on the Welsh Government website.
To open a bank account, you will usually need to show a form of identification such as your Biometric Residence Permit, passport or a driver’s licence or a recognised identity card. You may also need proof of your address. You should ask about any charges when you open a bank account.
Once you open your account, you will usually be issued with a debit card. Many cards are contactless - some shops will only accept contactless payment as will some transport providers.
You can also arrange for bills to be paid directly from your account using ‘direct debit’.
Further information on how to open a bank account is available at: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/debt-and-money/banking/getting-a-bank-account/
As a Ukrainian Visa Holder, you will be entitled to welfare benefits such as ‘Universal Credit’. More information about Universal Credit can be found on the UK Government website.
‘Universal Credit’ usually takes a number of weeks to arrive in your saving account. However, you are likely to be eligible for an ‘Advance Payment’. You must ask for an advance payment when you apply for Universal Credit. More information about how to request Advance Payments can be found on the UK Government website.
There are two ways to get help with your Universal Credit claim. You can either call the Universal Credit helpline or use the Help to Claim service. Calls to the Universal Credit helpline are free.
Telephone: 0800 328 5644
You can get free support from trained advisers to make a Universal Credit claim. They can help you with things like online applications or preparing for your first jobcentre appointment.
The Help to Claim service is provided by Citizens Advice and is confidential. They will not share your personal information unless you agree.
A link to their service can be found here:
The UK has a welfare system which is designed to help those who face financial hardship, or who have specific needs. Your local Job Centre Plus will be able to help you find out which benefits you may be able to access. This may include:
- Universal Credit – a payment for those of working age, to help with your living costs if you’re on a low income. You could be working (including self-employed or part time) or be out of work;
- Pension Credit - extra money to help with your living costs if you are over the age of 66 and on a low income. Applications for Pensions is online or via telephone
- Disability benefits – extra money to help with additional costs if you have a long term physical or mental health condition or disability
- Carer’s Allowance – extra money if you care for someone at least 35 hours a week.
- Child Benefit – extra money to help with the cost of raising a child.
A link to the different types of benefits you could receive can be found here:
You can apply for an ‘Emergency Assistance Payment’ if your social security payments are delayed. You can apply through the Welsh Government’s ‘Discretionary Assistance Fund’. More details about the Fund can be found on the Welsh Government website.
You may also be able to access support for costs related to children being in school, depending on your income. Free school meals are available to those in receipt of certain social security payments. You must apply to your Local Authority for this funding to be provided. Find out more on the Your Local Area page.
If you receive free school meals for your child, you can also access up to an additional £125. You can use this to buy school uniform, equipment or a sports kit. This can also be used to pay for activities outside of school through the Welsh Government’s Pupil Development Grant. You must apply for this funding through your local authority and more details can be found on the Welsh Government website.
More information about costs relating to education after the age of 16 can be found on the Education for All Ages section of this website.