New research commissioned by the Mayor of London has concluded that the benefits of scrapping the No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) policy far outweigh its costs, leading to net societal gains of up to £872 million.
The report, published in March 2022, also highlights that ending the NRPF condition would help to address many of the problems of destitution and poor housing that Local Authorities and third sector services are currently seeing and enable investment in other areas.
Over a million people in the UK are affected by NRPF, an immigration condition that excludes those it is imposed upon from accessing most state benefits and services, including Universal Credit, Child Benefit, social housing and mainstream homelessness services.
The policy is causing significant hardship, affecting poeple’s health, education, housing, and access to services such as support for victims of domestic abuse or when experiencing homelessness. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this, as many people subject to NRPF had almost no safety net to support them during this time.
NACCOM’s annual membership survey 2021 revealed that 493 people accommodated by the network in 2020-2021 had the NRPF condition attached to their immigration status, with a further 829 people accommodated who were refused asylum and therefore also unable to access public funds. Even during the Covid-19 pandemic, when there was more state-funded emergency support for people experiencing homelessness than ever before, over 1300 were left with nowhere to live due to their NRPF status.
In December 2020, NACCOM supported two experts by experience to give evidence to a panel of MPs at the Housing, Communities and Local Government (HCLG) Select Committee looking at the impact of Covid-19 on the homeless and the private rented sector. This was part of the evidence gathering process and an important opportunity for people who have direct experience of homelessness within the immigration system to be heard.
Sam* and Abeo* (*names have been changed) gave powerful statements about their personal experiences of homelessness and destitution whilst subject to immigration control, and highlighted how gaps in service provision, particularly for those who have No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) restrictions, and the fear and anxiety caused by uncertainties around accessing support, were exacerbated by Covid-19.