Most people granted limited leave in the UK are subject to the 'No Recourse to Public Funds' (NRPF) condition and unable to access benefits, homelessness assistance, and a local authority allocation of social housing. This includes people on settlement routes, such as those who are granted leave to remain on the basis of their family or private life.
The NRPF condition restricts access to benefits that are classed as 'public funds', including Universal Credit, Pension Credit, and Child Benefit. However, people with no recourse to public funds are also be excluded from some government funded childcare schemes and some families cannot access free school meals. People with leave to remain granted on family or private life grounds may be on a 10-year settlement route, incurring high application fees when they re-apply for leave every 2.5 years without access to legal aid. Councils can be required to provide accommodation and financial support to families and adults with no recourse to public funds to alleviate destitution and prevent homelessness, although such support is unfunded by central government. In 2020-21, 21% of families who requested support from social services had leave to remain with NRPF.
People who are subject to the NRPF condition can experience financial hardship and will be at risk of destitution and homelessness if they are unable to support themselves and their families through employment alone. Having no recourse to public funds and being subject to lengthy settlement routes also impedes the integration of children and adults who have been accepted by the Home Office as having a future in the UK.
A change of conditions process allows for people with leave to remain granted on family or private life routes and Hong Kong BN(O) visa holders to apply to the Home Office to have the condition removed if they can provide sufficient evidence that they are destitute, at imminent risk of destitution, or cannot meet a child’s particular and essential additional needs. However, this process does not always adequately protect individuals and families from experiencing financial hardship, homelessness, or the long-term impacts of living in the UK with no recourse to public funds, and does not eliminate the need for councils to provide accommodation and financial support when this is necessary to safeguard the welfare of a child or adult with care needs. The change of conditions process is not available to people with other types of leave to remain, such as students, and people with work or UK Ancestry visas, who were unable to gain access to benefits following a sudden loss of income during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Since January 2021, the Government has extended the use of the NRPF condition by applying it to people on the Hong Kong BN(O) visa route and also intends to impose it on some refugees.
In order to prevent homelessness, alleviate child poverty, promote integration within local communities, and reduce cost-shunts to councils, the NRPF condition should not be imposed.
However, whilst it remains in use and is extended to new groups, the Government needs to make the following changes to mitigate the impacts of the condition:
Since 2014, we have been working with the Home Office at an operational and policy level to ensure that people receiving social services' support do not have the NRPF condition imposed when they are granted leave to remain. In March 2021, only 10% of families supported by social services had leave to remain with NRPF.
We have also undertaken work to raise awareness of the impacts of the NRPF condition politically and have submitted evidence to various inquiries. In 2017 we held a round table in Parliament in partnership with the Children’s Society. We have submitted evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group for ending homelessness and to the Work and Pensions Committee's current inquiry into children in poverty with no recourse to public funds.
In 2018 the All Party Parliamentary Group for ending homelessness recommended that the NRPF condition is not imposed on people with children under 18 and some other groups.
Work and Pensions Committee inquiry: children in poverty with no recourse to public funds (October 2021):
Ministry of Justice review into the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (June 2018):
All Party Parliamentary Group for ending homelessness (February 2018):
Chief Inspector of Immigration’s investigation into the Home Office approach to charging for services (July 2018):