There has been some reporting in the media recently of the Government’s policy on no recourse to public funds (NRPF) in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
This Government is committed to doing whatever it takes to support everyone through this crisis. We have brought forward numerous measures in response, many of which can be accessed by those with no recourse to public funds.
We are committed to protecting vulnerable people and are confident that we have measures in place to support those who have no recourse to public funds at this time.
- Those seeking to establish their family life in the UK must do so on a basis that prevents burdens on the State and the UK taxpayer. It is right that those who benefit from the State contribute towards it.
- No recourse to public funds (NRPF) is a standard condition applied to those staying here with a temporary immigration status to protect public funds. Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) is set as the general threshold for permitting migrants to access public funds. Migrants who are here without leave are also subject to no recourse to public funds. Therefore, most migrants do not have access to public funds as a matter of course.
- This has long been established as being in the public interest. These measures have been developed over many years, by successive Governments. They are consistent with legislative frameworks operated by comparable countries. This position has been approved by Parliament in primary legislation, most recently in the Immigration Act 2014.
- More information for those migrants living in the UK and with no recourse to public funds can be found here.
NRPF and Coronavirus Response
- The Government has acted decisively to ensure that we support everyone through this crisis. We are committed to protecting vulnerable people and are confident that we have measures in place to support those who have no recourse to public funds.
- Many of the wide-ranging coronavirus measures we have put in place are not considered public funds and therefore are available to migrants with no recourse to public funds.
- These range from protections for renters from evictions, a mortgage holiday for those who need it, as well as support for those who are vulnerable and need assistance with access to medication and shopping. They also include the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme. Those with no recourse to public funds have access to statutory sick pay.
- The Government also announced the provision of additional funding for local authorities in England and additional funding for the devolved administrations. This additional funding to councils in England means we have now provided them with over £3.2 billion during this pandemic to support vulnerable groups.
- This funding will assist local authorities across the UK with providing accommodation and support to vulnerable people who are at risk of, or who have been diagnosed with, Covid-19. We will continue to work closely with local authorities to ensure that they have the resource they need to protect people who are currently, or at risk of, sleeping rough.
- In addition, local authorities may 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.
- We have also temporarily extended the eligibility criteria for free school meals to support some families with no recourse to public funds, in recognition of the difficulties they may be facing during these unique circumstances.
NRPF and Healthcare
- The NHS will provide care to everyone, but temporary and unlawful migrants are liable to be charged for some services.
- The Immigration Health Charge, also referred to as a ‘Surcharge’, the ‘Immigration Health Surcharge’ or the ‘IHS’, ensures that temporary, non-EEA migrants contribute to the NHS in a fair and proportionate manner. This includes many with no recourse to public funds.
- Migrants who pay the surcharge can access health services on broadly the same basis as British citizens and other permanent residents.
- Income from the Immigration Health Surcharge goes directly back into the NHS to help save lives.
- We have extended the visas of overseas health and care workers, free of charge, for one year. Those included have also been made exempt them from the Immigration Health Surcharge.
- Treatment that clinicians consider is immediately necessary or urgent must always be provided regardless of if the patient will go on to pay.
- In response to the pandemic, Covid-19 has been added to the list of communicable diseases. This means that anyone experiencing symptoms regardless of their immigration status will be treated for free.
- No charges apply to testing for Covid-19, even if the result is negative, or to any treatment provided for Covid-19 if the result is positive or up to the point that it is negatively diagnosed.
- NHS staff have also been asked to ensure that patients who are known to be undergoing testing and treatment for Covid-19 only are not subject to Home Office status checks.
- This message has been widely communicated to the public through various means including in PHE’s migrant health guide.
NRPF and Family and Human Rights Routes
- Migrants with leave under the Family and Human Rights routes can apply to have the NRPF restriction lifted by making a ‘change of conditions’ application if there has been a change in their financial circumstances.
- We have recently digitised the application form to make sure it is accessible for those who need to remain at home, and those who do not have internet access or are not confident using a computer. Applicants can also access phone support to complete their application.
- These requests receive careful consideration in the light of the applicant’s circumstances, and the welfare of any children involved.
NRPF and Domestic Violence
- The Government recognises that NRPF restrictions can make it difficult for migrant victims of domestic abuse to access safe accommodation, particularly when many refuges rely on housing benefit to fund their services.
- The Destitution Domestic Violence Concession (DDVC) is designed to address this issue for those who have been granted leave to enter or remain in the UK on a partner visa and who therefore have a reasonable expectation of securing indefinite leave to remain. For those who are eligible, the DDVC provides a period of three months’ leave outside the Immigration Rules independent from their sponsor, as well as recourse to public funds to support them to find safe accommodation whilst they apply for indefinite leave to remain under the Immigration Rules.
- As noted, the DDVC is only available to migrants on a UK partner visa, however the Home Office has announced it is opening a £1.5 million pilot fund to support those with no recourse to public funds in securing safe accommodation. The Home Office will then use this pilot to asses the level of support needed for migrant victims, in order to inform future funding decisions. Separately, as part of the Domestic Abuse Bill, the Home Office will provide a review of the Government’s response to migrant victims of domestic abuse during the report phase of the Bill.
- During the coronavirus outbreak, the Home Office has also launched the #YouAreNotAlone campaign to ensure that all victims of domestic abuse are aware that existing sources of support remain open to them.
- The Home Office has also announced £2 million in funding to improve domestic abuse charities online tools such as websites and chat rooms.
NRPF and Asylum
No recourse to public funds has been incorrectly conflated in the media with reporting on asylum.
- Asylum seekers are provided with accommodation and support to meet their essential living needs if they would otherwise be destitute whilst their claim is considered.
- Support consists of fully furnished and equipped accommodation with no utility bills or Council Tax to pay, and a cash allowance to cover the cost of essential living needs.
- If they are granted refugee status they have access to public funds and are eligible to receive mainstream benefits in the same way as British Citizens and other permanent residents.
- We take the wellbeing of all those in the asylum system extremely seriously and have also put in place a separate range of measures to specifically support asylum seekers affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
- As part of the Government’s response to coronavirus, we have ensured those individuals who are provided with asylum accommodation can remain in their current accommodation until the end of June and this will be kept under review. More information on asylum accommodation and applications can be found here.
- This includes those granted refugee status or other leave who can access public funds, as well as those whose application for asylum has been refused. The situation will be kept under constant review.