No Recourse to Public Funds – the Lalley Centre experience
by Julia Coultan, Community Services Manager, Caritas Salford
The Lalley Centre, one of the community projects of the charity Caritas Diocese of Salford, helps people from across North Manchester who are struggling to feed their families and to make ends meet. We provide food support, help and advice to many people . One of the groups of people who come to us for help are those directly affected by the No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) legislation, which is not very well known. We wanted to highlight the situation that people subject to NRPF find themselves in, and how hard it is for them to support themselves and their families.
NRPF status was introduced via the 1999 Asylum and Immigration Act, and further widened in 2012. People with NRPF status are not allowed to claim benefits or to seek work. This status can last for up to 10 years, while people negotiate the costly and lengthy immigration processes. Many of these people are families with children, and these children sometimes have British citizenship, but are not given access to basic support such as benefits and free school meals like other children in their position receive. They lose out on these vital lifelines to prevent people falling into poverty, simply due to the NRPF status of their parents.
Some research recently published by The Unity Project, which is based in London and supports people with NRPF status, found that nationally, the NRFP policy disproportionately affects women, and people from BME communities. Our experience in North Manchester certainly bears this out. In 2018/19 – 22% of our Lalley Centre food bank members (36 out of 164 members) had NRPF status.
So far in 2019/20, 16% of our Lalley Centre food bank members had NRPF status. These family groupings consist of 17 women, 7 men, and 35 children. 10 of these families are female single parent households.
All the families are from BME communities.
The Home Office has recently agreed to review its policy regarding NRPF, but in the meantime its consequences are that children are living in poverty and unable to access the basics like a hot meal and adequate clothing.
You can read the full Unity Project report, “Access Denied: The cost of the ‘no recourse to public funds’ policy” here