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The Nationality & Borders Bill and No Recourse to Public Funds

The Nationality & Borders Bill and No Recourse to Public Funds

The Nationality & Borders Bill and No Recourse to Public Funds

Friday, November 19, 2021

This is a guest blog written by Bethan Lant, facilitator of the Pan-London Migrant Frontline Network and Casework & Training Manager at Praxis.

The term “No Recourse to Public Funds”, or NRPF for short, is used in different ways, but immigration practitioners use it to mean a condition which the Home Office put on the leave of a person who otherwise has permission to be in the UK.  Since 2012, the use of NRPF conditions on leave has increased due to changes in immigration policy, leaving large numbers of migrants who expect to settle in the UK with no safety net of welfare benefits or homelessness support when the worst happens. 

Earlier this year, Praxis published “Living with Dignity”, a manifesto for our campaign to end the use of No Recourse to Public Funds conditions on certain types of leave to remain in the UK.  This is our first campaign co-produced with a group of experts by experience.  Our manifesto highlights some of the many issues faced by migrants with NRPF.

Over a number of years, lawyers have been challenging the use of the NRPF policy through the courts but every time a successful challenge is brought, rather than thoroughly review and revise the policy, the Home Office makes small tweaks to the existing policy to try to bring it in line with the court’s ruling.  Every small change is the result of long legal processes, extreme stress for the migrant litigant, and many months or even years of work for the legal teams behind the challenges. 

The Nationality & Borders Bill which is at present going through Parliament (you can track its progress here Nationality and Borders Bill - Parliamentary Bills - UK Parliament) is a long and complex document which seeks to make changes to immigration law in a number of different areas.  One area of particular concern is that it suggests that in future NRPF conditions may be used to punish those refugees who the Home Office deem have not used a “legal” route to enter the UK to claim asylum.  Recognition as a refugee acknowledges that a person has been forced to leave their country due to a genuine threat of persecution.  Refugees are often survivors of torture or imprisonment.  Research by the Refugee Council shows that those recently granted refugee status are already at increased risk of homelessness and destitution.  Extending the use of NRPF in this way would cause an increase in homelessness among people who have already experienced huge trauma and loss.

Praxis believes that it is important that migrant and homelessness groups work together to lobby against this bill.  Praxis is actively encouraging organisations to lobby MPs and members of the House of Lords and to raise awareness of the bill with local stakeholders who may not be aware of the potential impact on homelessness.  A longer briefing on the Bill is published by JCWI here.

For more information and resources about Homelessness and Migration, take a look at recordings from the conference held by the Pan-London Migrant Frontline Network, facilitated by Praxis, and Homeless Link earlier this year.

The Pan-London Migrant Frontline Network will also be hosting an event on the 24th of November, discussing “What Next for Homeless EU Nationals?” – register here.

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