Petition Suspend No Recourse to Public Funds visa conditions
Call on the Government to urgently suspend No Recourse to Public Funds visa conditions so that migrants and their families are protected from the health and financial impacts of Covid-19. More support is needed for those who live and work in the UK, to ensure they can access the public safety net.
No recourse to public funds (NRPF) has long pushed working families into poverty, unsustainable debt and homelessness. With no access to the public safety net, many more families are at risk of destitution, particularly with rising job losses. Greater risk of destitution causes increased financial pressure on Local Authorities who must respond to requests for destitution support.
Suspending NRPF is vital to contain COVID-19, prevent hardship, and release pressure on Local Authorities.
This response was given on 30 March 2021
Due to the alternative support available to migrants with No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) the Government does not intend to suspend the condition, permanently or temporarily.
Read the response in full
The principle of NRPF was established as far back as 1971 and is a condition that has been applied to those staying here with a temporary immigration status under successive Governments. Migrants here without lawful status are also subject to NRPF.
The Government’s position is that those seeking to establish a life in the UK must do so on a basis that prevents burdens on the taxpayer and promotes integration. This is reflected in the Immigration Rules and applying the NRPF condition to those with a temporary immigration status is a standard means of pursuing this legitimate objective. Successive governments have set the threshold for migrants qualifying for public funds at indefinite leave to remain, reflecting the strength of connection to the UK of those who hold this status. Refugees and protected persons, and those granted discretionary leave are also eligible to access public funds.
The Government remain committed to protecting vulnerable people and have acted decisively to ensure we support everyone through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many of the wide-ranging COVID-19 measures the Government has put in place are available to migrants with NRPF. These range from assistance being given under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self-employed Income Support Scheme, protections for renters from evictions, a mortgage holiday for those who need it and support for those who are vulnerable and need assistance with access to medication and shopping.
Statutory sick pay and some other contribution-based benefits, such as contributory employment support allowance, are not classed as public funds and are available to all who are eligible and unable to work during this difficult time. Migrants who have been granted leave on the basis of their family life / human rights can apply to have the NRPF condition on their stay lifted by making a ‘change of conditions’ application. For these routes, the NRPF condition can be lifted where there is evidence that the applicant is destitute (or at risk of destitution), the welfare of their child is at risk due to their low income, or there are other exceptional financial circumstances.
Since the onset of the pandemic, we have continued to prioritise NRPF ‘change of conditions’ applications and deal with them compassionately. Data published in February 2021 for quarter 4 of 2020 shows the average time taken to make a decision on cases is 18 days. Of the decisions taken in the same period, 86% were granted.
Local authorities may also provide basic safety net support, regardless of immigration status, if it is established that there is a genuine care need that does not arise solely from destitution, for example, where there are community care needs, migrants with serious health problems or family cases where the wellbeing of a child is in question.
The Government has provided unprecedented support of over £8 billion of funding to local authorities in England to help councils manage the impacts of COVID-19 and respond to the spending pressures they are facing, including £4.6 billion which is not ringfenced. Funding provided to local authorities under the COVID-19 emergency response is paid through a grant, recognising that local authorities are best placed to decide how this funding is spent. An additional funding of nearly £19 billion has also been provided for the devolved administrations under the Barnett formula as part of the wider government response.
Healthcare is not classified as a public fund, and testing and treatment for COVID-19 is free of charge to all regardless of immigration status. Also, NHS Trusts have been advised that no immigration checks are required for these patients. The guidance can be viewed here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/nhs-entitlements-migrant-health-guide.
Support is also available from local authorities for those with NRPF in England, in the form of a payment comparable to the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme, which provides a £500 payment to people on low incomes who cannot work from home and have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, provided they meet the criteria set by the local authority for discretionary payments in their area.
We have also temporarily extended the eligibility criteria for free school meals in England to support some families with NRPF, in recognition of the difficulties they may be facing during these unique circumstances.
More information on the support available to migrants during the pandemic, including those with NRPF, can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-get-support-if-youre-a-migrant-living-in-the-uk.
In light of the support that is available for people in the UK, including those with NRPF, we do not believe it is necessary to suspend the NRPF condition.
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