Boroughs stepping in to help 2,900 families in need

  • By Gemma Kappala-R...

New figures published by London Councils show that London boroughs are stepping in to support families who have no recourse to public funds.

London Councils’ survey of boroughs suggests that councils across London spent in the region of £53.7 million supporting 2,900 households with no recourse to public funds in 2016/17 – around £19,000 per family on average. 

Having no recourse to public funds (NRPF) often means that households are permitted to live in the UK but are subject to immigration controls, which means they are not eligible for support from the welfare system. 

Boroughs are a vital safety net for those with NRPF, which often include families with children and vulnerable young adults, as they have a duty to undertake an assessment of the needs of people who are classed as NRPF under current legislation. 

Cllr Claire Kober OBE, Chair of London Councils, said:

“Families who have no recourse to public funds are often incredibly vulnerable and our survey shows that London boroughs are stepping in to offer much needed support despite the financial challenges they face.

“However this work is currently unfunded. If boroughs are expected to provide this essential support, it is crucial that they are provided with the resources required to do so.”

NRPF is a particularly acute issue in London, placing increasing pressure on London boroughs’ finances and services. At the moment, local authorities receive no funding to manage this.

London boroughs are calling on Government to:

• Recognise the burden of NRPF upon local authorities and to fund this cost appropriately.
• Improve Home Office policy and procedures to ensure relevant immigration cases are dealt with as fairly and efficiently as possible.

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

• The data in this press release is an estimate of the scale of councils’ support for people with no recourse to public funds based on survey responses from 24 London boroughs. 

• Section 115 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 (IAA) states that a person will have ‘no recourse to public funds’ if they are subject to immigration control; public funds include welfare benefits and public housing. 

• If a person with no recourse to public funds (NRPF) becomes destitute they might turn to their borough for support. Local authorities have a duty to undertake an assessment of the needs of people classed as NRPF under a combination of the Human Rights Act, the Children’s Act 1989 and the National Assistance Act 1948.

• If it is determined that the person is eligible for support then the local authority is required to meet those needs, which may include provision of accommodation and subsistence. Financial support from a local authority under community care and children’s legislation is not a ‘public fund’.

• According to London Councils’ research, during this decade London boroughs have had their funding reduced by almost two thirds (63 per cent). At the same time, London’s population is growing at twice the rate of the rest of England and could reach 9.8 million by 2025, according to the ONS.