No Recourse To Public Funds- The Forgotten People of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Possession of a British passport with its majestic coat of arms comes with its perks and privileges, as it should.

What about those who do not possess this book? What about the people who are not settled in the UK? What about those who live here but are not allowed to have access to welfare benefits (also known as public funds)?

Individuals with No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) are not entitled to the majority of welfare benefits, which include: income support, housing benefits, a range of allowances and tax credits. The Immigration and Asylum Act of 1999, states that a person will have no recourse to public funds if they are under immigration control.

This group of people includes non- EEA primary carers of British Citizens, individuals in the UK on a student or spouse visa, and those with limited leave to remain under family or private life rules.

Given the current COVID-19 pandemic, how are those without access to public funds expected to survive? How are they meant to wade through the water as it were?

Many people with NRPF are hard-working members of society who haven’t had to rely on public services until now. Their concerns include their inability to take care of their families and pay their housing costs and bills. Some of them fear exposure to the Virus, as they reluctantly put themselves in danger to make ends meet.

Research conducted by Morris (2020) shows that migrants are more likely to be self-employed and work in affected areas, some of which are more likely to be closed down due to the pandemic. The risk of destitution is significant. The barriers to accessing healthcare as a result of their immigration status are equally concerning. These barriers have become worse due to COVID-19. These are serious issues that must be addressed.

There is also evidence that women with NRPF are at a higher risk of domestic violence due to the barriers they face in accessing refuges and other services. If this isn’t of great worry, we don’t know what is! There is already a huge surge in domestic violence cases.

It seems clear that the NRPF policy must be reviewed, or suspended during the pandemic (at the very least) so those affected are also protected.

If you have No Recourse to Public Funds and have been affected by the pandemic, please contact us for more information on your options.

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