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False claim: Illegal immigrants and refugees receive £29,900 a year in benefits while UK pensioners get just £6,000

An image shared online contains several false claims about the benefits that refugees, illegal immigrants and pensioners are entitled to in the UK.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

The image contains text that reads: “If they worked for 45 years…BRITISH OLD AGED PENSIONER’S GET A TOTAL YEARLY BENEFIT OF £6,000. ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS / REFUGEES LIVING IN BRITAIN GET A TOTAL YEARLY BENEFIT OF £29,900”. (here)

This is not correct. Illegal immigrants cannot claim benefits in the UK. A person is classed as an illegal immigrant when they do not have the right to remain in the country.

The UK government, in response to a petition urging it to “Stop all benefits to illegal immigrants completely”, said in 2015: “Illegal immigrants and failed asylum seekers are not entitled to, and do not get, benefits from the UK’s welfare system”.(here)

Refugees, on the other hand, can claim benefits, but no more than any British person. Refugees are defined as asylum seekers whose asylum application has been successful.

A House of Commons report states that they are entitled to “social security benefits and tax credits on the same basis as UK nationals.” (here)

But these benefits are typically capped well short of £29,900. For instance, the maximum amount a single person living outside London can receive in benefits is capped at £13,400 a year, or £15,410 if they live in London. (here)

This rises to £20,000 a year for couples or single parents with children living outside London, and to £23,000 a year in London.

Although the benefits cap doesn’t apply to some people, this has nothing to do with refugee status. Instead, factors like being over state pension age or receiving Universal Credit because of a disability that stops you from working can make a person exempt. (here)

The benefits pensioners can be eligible for include free bus travel, the means-tested pension credit and a state pension.

A basic state pension can be claimed by a man who was born before 6 April 1951 or a woman who was born before 6 April 1953. The full basic state pension is £134.25 a week, or £6,981 a year. (www.gov.uk/state-pension) To get the full basic state pension you need a total of 30 qualifying years of National Insurance contributions or credits. (here)

Pensioners born after the above dates can draw the new state pension of up to £175.20 a week, or £9,110 a year. A person needs 35 qualifying years to get the full rate, but can receive a proportion of it if they have between 10 and 35 qualifying years. (www.gov.uk/new-state-pension)

The claim on social media refers to a pensioner who has worked for 45 years. Such a person would presumably be entitled to a full state pension, meaning they would receive a minimum of £6,981, as well as any other benefits they may be eligible for.

VERDICT

False. Illegal immigrants cannot receive benefits. While refugees are eligible to the same benefits as UK nationals, these are capped far below £29,900. A pensioner who has worked for 45 years would be entitled to a minimum of £6,981 a year.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here .

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