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In our role as co-secretariat to the All Party Parliamentary Group on No Recourse to Public Funds[1] with Project 17 we held a hybrid evidence session on 15 June on the impact of the NRPF condition on children.

We believe that the NRPF condition represents a violation of many rights, included the right to an adequate standard of living (Article 11 ICESCR) and protection of the family (Article 10 ICESCR) and should be scrapped.[2]  

The session focussed on the recent report from the UK Parliament’s Work and Pensions Committee (WPC), following their inquiry into Children in Poverty: No Recourse to Public Funds and the Government response to the report.

This event was chaired by Kate Osamor MP.

Speakers and discussion included:

Stephen Timms highlighted that the WPC report made two main recommendations. While the UK Government’s response rejected both, he expressed a strong belief in the value of pushing for them:

  • Maximum period families with children should be subject to NRPF condition reduced from ten years to five years
  • Parents with children who are British citizens should receive child benefit

Olivia Halse spoke about her experience of bringing judicial reviews on NRPF in relations to three general areas:

  1. Where client has approached their local authority (LA) saying they were destitute and had been refused help.
  2. When a LA has agreed to give support, but the support is not suitable.
  3. Wider scale challenges to central government schemes in operation.

Carri Swann highlighted that CPAG believes NRPF needs to end because it spells poverty.  But she argued that in the interim, child benefit should be declassified as a public fund. This is similar to the to the WPC recommendation that Stephen Timms spoke about but goes further by removing the ‘British children’ requirement. Carri asserted that child benefit should be likened to state education or NHS treatment.

Nicole Masri argued the UK Government’s words about victims of domestic violence in their response to the WPC report ring hollow, and while the UK Government excludes migrant victims from support, it therefore excludes them from protection. Nicole stressed that perpetrators of abuse use victims’ migrant status as a tool of control and abuse and asserted that two outcomes must be achieved to support migrant victims of domestic violence, migrant victims must

  1. be able to gain independent immigration status in their own right
  2. be eligible for housing and other financial support irrespective of status
  • Francisa and Temi (United Impact)[3]

Francisca and Temi are two mothers with lived experience of the No Recourse to Public Funds condition. They spoke powerfully about the  challenges people subject to the condition face, including:

  • The difference access to child benefit would make in the lives of their children
  • The extra hardship the current cost of living crisis has brought
  • The inability of people with NRPF to access UK Government childcare provision and impact this has on their mental health, ability to work and the development of their child
  • The overwhelming impact of NRPF on their mental health

 

The notes and a recording of the meeting will soon be available on the APPG NRPF website here.

[1] No recourse to public funds (NRPF) is an immigration condition imposed on undocumented migrants and people who have leave to remain subject to a NRPF restriction. A person with NRPF cannot access most welfare benefits or social housing but they can access publicly funded services that are not listed as ‘public funds’.

[2] For more on Just Fair’s position, read our recent joint report with Project 17 to the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights

[3] United Impact is a group of sixty people with lived experience of having no recourse to public funds.  United Impact’s aim is to raise awareness and work with decision makers to create change, so that families and children with NRPF do not have to endure poverty, hunger, homelessness and further suffering.

 

Background image by Daniel Liévano

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