|| Cllr Barr Nazir Ahmed FRSA ||
No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) is a standard condition applied to those staying here in the United Kingdom with a temporary immigration status. It was introduced mainly to protect public funds. Indefinite Leave to Remain [ILR – also known as Permanent Residence (PR) or Settled Status] is set as the general threshold for permitting migrants to access public funds. Migrants who are here without leave are also complete subject to the NRPF. Therefore, most migrants living in the United Kingdom do not have access, or right to access, to public funds as a matter of course.
If you have a residence permit that allows you to live and work in the United Kingdom, it is most like to include the condition that you have no recourse to public funds. If so, it means that you will not be able to claim most benefits, tax credits or housing assistance that are paid by the state and the local authorities. However, there are exceptions for some benefits.
Public funds include a range of benefits that are given to people on a low income, as well as housing support and assistance. These are: income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income support, child tax credit, universal credit, working tax credit, a social fund payment, child benefit, housing benefit, council tax benefit, council tax reduction, domestic rate relief (Northern Ireland), state pension credit, attendance allowance, severe disablement allowance, personal independence payment, carer’s allowance, disability living allowance, an allocation of local authority housing and local authority homelessness assistance.
However, public funds do not include benefits that are based on National Insurance (NI) contributions. NI contributions are paid in the same way as income tax and are based on earnings. Benefits to which a person is entitled as a result of NI contributions include contribution-based jobseeker’s allowance, incapacity benefit, retirement pension, widow’s benefit and bereavement benefit, guardian’s allowance and statutory maternity pay.
Historically, all Limited Leave to Remain holders have this restriction. Those who used to get Discretionary Leave to Remain prior to July 2012 were getting for three years’ leave without NRPF condition. Following completion of six years of the Discretionary Leave to Remain, the applicants were entitled to apply for the ILR. The position was changed on 9 July 2020. From 9th July, all Discretionary Leave to Remain have been granted for two and half years’ basis with the NRPF restriction. The applicant will be entitled to apply for ILR after completing 10 years. During those 10 years, the applicant will be under the condition of NRPF.
This restriction has long been established in the United Kingdom as being in the public interest. These measures have been developed over many years by successive governments of different political parties. They are consistent with legislative frameworks operated by comparable countries. This position has been approved by Parliament in primary legislation, most recently in the Immigration Act 2014.
Persons who have limited leave to remain with the NRPF condition may be able to apply to the Home Office to request that the NRPF condition is lifted following a change of their circumstances, specially where this has resulted in them being unable to afford their housing and/ or basic living costs, at imminent risk of becoming destitute, a child’s welfare being at risk, or other exceptional circumstances relating to their financial situation. They can do this by making a free change of conditions online application to the Home Office.
We have all been facing unprecedented challenges due to the global pandemic. No one has ever contemplated such a scenario. The government have announced different types of packages to support businesses, employers, companies, self-employed persons, employees and charities. However, a significant number of migrants with the NRPF condition have been facing severe hardship and difficulty due to Covid-19. Because of this restriction attached to their visa/leave, various public authorities (such as, central government authorities/departments, local authorities, NHS and Social Security Department) cannot help them. This is for obvious reason, for the law does not allow them.
If any person facing severe difficulty, hardship and are in destitute condition, he/she should apply to the Home Office to get this condition removed. It can be applied online; no fees payable. While applying online, please make sure you provide all the details and explain your extenuating circumstances. After the application being lodged, documentary proof and evidence of hardship and financial position have to be submitted. If the Home Office satisfies and lifts the restriction, then the concerned applicant, like a British citizen or Indefinite Leave to Remain (Settled Status) holder, will be eligible to have access to all the benefits that he or she is entitled to.
*Cllr Barr Nazir Ahmed FRSA is a renowned lawyer, writer, analyst and public representative.