In May, NACCOM was asked to give evidence to the House of Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee, which was looking into the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP’s) response to the Coronavirus.
Jessie Seal, NACCOM’s Campaigns and Policy Co-ordinator, appeared by video link to talk about the risks the pandemic poses to people who have insecure immigration status and are experiencing, or are at risk of, homelessness and destitution, including those who have No Recourse to Public Funds.
For those with insecure migration status, having no recourse to public funds has put them at serious risk during the pandemic, as NACCOM's @JessieSeal highlighted yesterday to the @CommonsWorkPen. You can read our key related policy asks here: https://t.co/rJVRF6O5XY pic.twitter.com/RxnagO7x7J
— NACCOM (@NACCOMnetwork) May 7, 2020
Throughout the pandemic NACCOM has been advocating for an end to NRPF, to enable those barred from accessing public funds because of their immigration status to secure safe accommodation and support, in order to protect their health and follow the public health guidelines.
Referencing evidence and data from NACCOM members, Jessie also expressed our concerns about the lack of clarity surrounding what Local Authority support people with NRPF can access, following the launch of the Government’s ‘Everybody In’ directive, which gave additional funding to Local Authorities to accommodate rough sleepers in emergency accommodation.
The Committee’s report was published on June 22nd and cites our campaigning work around this issue on pages 26 – 31. The report gave strong recommendations that the NRPF condition be suspended;
‘…during a pandemic it cannot be in the public interest to expect people… to comply fully with restrictive public health guidance while simultaneously denying them full access to the welfare safety net. Ministers have been telling us for months that they are working on this issue. The Prime Minister himself has promised to see what can be done. But people need support now.’ (pg 30 – para. 81)
‘In these exceptional circumstances, the Government should immediately suspend NRPF conditions on public health grounds for the duration of the outbreak. Following the various ministerial commitments in the House, the Government should also set out exactly what measures it has taken so far to support people with NRPF, and include details of any ministerial implementation groups or other fora that have been set up to consider this issue.’ (pg 30 – para 81)
‘There is a lack of clarity surrounding what local authority support people with NRPF can access. DWP have told us that the £500 million hardship fund is not listed as a public fund. As noted by organisations who work with people with NRPF, however, some local authorities are not sure about what support they can provide, resulting in inconsistent levels of support across different areas. The Government should publish or at least clarify existing guidance for local authorities on what support they can provide for people with NRPF, including an explicit statement of whether measures such as the hardship fund are classed as public funds or not. The guidance should also state clearly whether local authorities are expected to use existing funding to support people with NRPF, or whether they can reclaim costs at a later date.’ (pg 30 – para’ 83)
For more information on NACCOM’s campaigns and policy work, please get in touch with Jessie Seal.