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No recourse to public funds (NRPF) is a standard condition applied to temporary visas to stay in the UK, which stipulates that the individual is not entitled to access public funds, in the form of most benefits or government provided housing. Migrants who do not have a valid visa are also subject to NRPF.
Another way to say this would be that a person will have no recourse to public funds when they are ‘subject to immigration control’, as defined at section 115 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.
a person who is subject to immigration control cannot claim public funds (benefits and housing assistance), unless an exception applies.
If all you knew about someone was that they had no recourse to public funds, it wouldn’t tell you very much. NRPF alone does not tell you whether or not the person is allowed to work in the UK, what their immigration status is, or what their support network is like.
Individuals who are subject to immigration control include those with temporary leave to remain, for the purposes of settling with family, work or study, as well as those who have entered on a valid visa, but whose visa is no longer valid, and those who entered the country with no legal right established.
If you have temporary leave to remain, or you have no legally recognised right to remain, you probably don’t have recourse to public funds. If there are questions about immigration status and whether or not conditions can be altered, or whether or not the immigration status of the individual imposes further restrictions on entitlement, it is really important to help the individual find a certified immigration advisor. NRPF doesn’t restrict access to legal aid; however, most immigration concerns aren’t covered by legal aid.
With the exception of Irish citizens, Citizens from Europe who enter the UK are now treated the same as any other migrant. People from European countries who arrived in the UK prior to 2021 under freedom of movement rules have until June 30th, 2021 to claim settlement status. For more information, here is a link to a factsheet about the EU settlement scheme, from the NRPF network.
On July 1st, 2021, European residents in the UK who have not claimed settlement status will no longer have a legal immigration status. Which means that they will not have access to public funds- even if they had access to public funds previously, nor can they be supported by social services, unless not supporting them would be a breach of their human rights. We will come back to this shortly.
Public funds, as laid out in the NRPF restriction, very specifically refers to Local Authority funded housing and welfare benefits. NRPF does not pertain to other support systems that might be funded by taxpayer money, including Social Services support for care needs, NHS care, or community organisations who receive government grants. But it is important to remember that if someone doesn’t have recourse to public funds, there may be other restrictions imposed on them.
For example, Schedule 3 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act of 2002 covers a broader class of ineligibility for support. It lists adults who are not entitled to social services support due to nationality and/or immigration status. Individuals subject to schedule 3 restrictions are not entitled to social services support, unless withholding support would breach their human rights. So, again, its very important that individuals are referred on to a certified immigration advisor if they need it.
There is a toolkit available on the NRPF network website, which can be used by an individual looking for support or by a professional who needs to know where to start. This tool asks questions about the individual’s circumstances, including immigration status, to determine what support may be available to them.
No Recourse to Public Funds does not determine what NHS care an individual can access for free. It is important to highlight that primary care services are available to all. Anyone living in England can register with a GP. They do not need to have a permanent address or to discuss their immigration status. This includes testing, treatment and vaccination for Covid-19, and to be invited to get your vaccine, you need to be registered with a GP. The cards pictured here are being distributed as part of a campaign from NHS England and Healthwatch. If you would like to get a stack of cards for the people you work with, contact your local Healthwatch.
Secondary services, including most hospital care, and who will be charged for them, is more complicated. Some visas, which will include the NRPF designation, now include a health surcharge, which allows the individual to use the NHS under the same terms as someone who is ordinarily resident in the UK, for as long as their visa is valid. You can find out more about access to NHS services and who would be expected to pay for services by following this link to a gov.uk guide. At doctors of the world.org.uk, you can find resources to support professionals and information for individuals, including printable resources available in different languages. This includes a digital copy of the GP access card and information about Covid 19.
No recourse to public funds does not prohibit social care assessments.
In relation to safeguarding the welfare of children in households where parents have NRPF and require accommodation and/or financial assistance to avoid destitution, Supporting a Child in Need is a statutory duty, regardless of the immigration status of the child. If meeting the child’s needs, according to a Child in Need Assessment, necessitates the provision of housing or income support, than that support should be provided to the family under s17 of the Children Act 1989.
Families may need reassurance that destitution or homelessness is not grounds for the removal of the child. Organisations supporting the family will need to consider whether the child’s needs would be met if the family returned to their country of origin, and the Council is expected to advise the home office if it is supporting an individual subject to immigration controls
Under the Care Act, adults with potential care and support needs arising from a physical or mental health condition, should be assessed for support by the local authority in which he or she is resident. The local authority does not have a duty to support adults whose needs arise from destitution alone, but they do have the power to meet non-eligible needs where care and support needs are present, as it deems necessary.
Individuals who are subject to NRPF may be extremely vulnerable, particularly if they entered the UK under already vulnerable circumstances (such as modern slavery) or if the circumstances under which they entered change (for example, they entered on a work visa, then lost that job). This might also include individuals who enter the UK on a spousal visa who then experience domestic abuse. In circumstances like these, NRPF can increase the individual or family’s vulnerability to exploitation.
So, if you have an individual who is vulnerable due to homelessness or destitution, and they have no recourse to public funds, there are things you might need to find out- in particular whether they need specialist support that is beyond your remit.
If someone finds themselves vulnerable, you may need to make sure no one has ruled out support that should be available to the individual.
If the individual has no recourse to public funds, but does have the right to work, they may benefit from support to find employment. They may also have access to certain benefits, if they have paid into national insurance.
There are some cases in which the individual can apply to have the NRPF condition removed due to a change of circumstances.
And if the denial of support might result in a breach of the person’s human rights, a human rights assessment should be carried out to determine next steps.
If the person is being abused or exploited, the perpetrator may be using their NRPF status as a tool to keep them in that position.
Individuals who are victims of trafficking or Modern Slavery may apply for housing and support via the National Referral Mechanism. Modern slavery is also a type of abuse recognised in the Care Act Guidance, so if someone has care and support needs that need to be considered, a safeguarding concern should be raised as well.
If the person who doesn’t have recourse to public funds experiences domestic abuse, they can be referred to the Independent Domestic Violence Advisory (IDVA) service. They may be able to apply for support under the destitute domestic violence exemption, but this is not available to everyone.
If there is a child in need due to destitution of the family, the child and their family should be supported under the Children’s Act.
Anxiety, concern, or lack of understanding may look like disengagement from the adult. Please remember, when trying to support adults who need assistance but have no recourse to public funds, to consider their communication needs. They may not speak English as their first language, or have additional accessibility needs that must be met in order understand important information. Also, when working with adults who may be being exploited or abused, it is important to find ways to communicate with the adult in a place and at a time when the adult can answer questions about their experience safely.
Covid 19 has complicated the situation in numerous ways. People experiencing job loss or decrease in income but who have no recourse to public funds cannot apply for Universal Credit or housing support. Instances in which destitution may have been prevented by return to country of origin may currently not be an option due to travel restrictions.
It is important that everyone understands that there are no restrictions or fees for NHS provided Covid 19 testing, treatment, or vaccination, but you must be registered with a GP to be invited to be vaccinated. (There are no migration-imposed restrictions on registering with a GP, either. ) For information about Covid-19, available is several languages, please see: https://www.doctorsoftheworld.org.uk/
We have provided hyperlinks to a variety of resources throughout this sway- primarily from Gov.uk, the NRPF Network and Cambridgeshire Insight. Please explore these websites, which provide a wealth of information regarding support available to help individuals and families who have no recourse to public funds but need support. In particular, Cambridgeshire Insight provides contact details and further information about organisations in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough that support people who have no recourse to public funds.
Thank you for your time.