- Destitute people from abroad with no recourse to public funds
- A survey of local authorities
- Fellas, Olvia; Smith Adrian and Smith, Frances
- No Recourse to Public Funds Team, Islington Council
- Sep 2006
This paper aims to highlight the legal framework, eligibility and cost of No Recourse to Public Funds [NRPF] services to local authorities. It then sets out recommendations for taking the NRPF issue forward at practice and policy levels.
The research was carried out by the NRPF Team at Islington Council in July and August 2006. A total of 26 local authorities were involved in the project: seven London boroughs, and 19 local authorities in regions outside London. Meetings were held in London with the individual boroughs, and the majority of meetings in other parts of the country were conducted as group meetings. In addition, Islington Council met with the Team Manager of the National Consortia Support Team [NCCG], which is made up of representation from each of the 11 UK regions and seeks to promote the needs of asylum seekers and refugees.
Local authorities have a duty to support certain categories of people who are subject to immigration control, have NRPF and are considered "destitute plus", namely, that they have a need for care and attention that is additional to lack of accommodation and subsistence. This obligation arises from the Home Office policy and practice of withdrawing support from failed asylum seekers, but failing to remove them from the UK. Owing to the complexity of this area and lack of clear guidelines from the Home Office, many local authorities are faced with severe concerns over their expenditure and their legal obligations to destitute people from abroad. The result is that this area of work is not strategically led and remains operationally unstructured in many local authorities. Local authorities are facing increasing costs in relation to NRPF and a rise in demand for services. However, many do not have a breakdown of costs incurred for NRPF services and are unaware of how many people they are supporting and at what cost. Only one authority had a dedicated NRPF corporate budget, and as a result of having established clear procedures, this authority was able to save on spending. Where cost information was available, costs were estimated at a £1million plus per annum, and this is likely to be an underestimate. Subsistence rates and accommodation provided to NRPF clients varied widely across authorities. Local authorities' structure and approach to service provision also varied widely: five had a dedicated NRPF service; six were in the process of establishing a dedicated service; and the remaining 15 authorities operated on a largely ad hoc basis, with individuals presenting at different local authority services - e.g. disability, mental health - who often did not have the expertise to deal with the case. It seems that local authorities with the most developed services where in those areas where legal representatives regularly challenged their decisions. In light of the complexities involved with NRPF support, both in terms of the complexities of cases presented and legal confusions, there was widespread support for a local authority NRPF network to improve practice and work at developing a strategic response to NRPF.
Conclusions and recommendations
The report concludes that current government policy to use destitution to encourage people to leave the UK is placing people in degrading and inhumane situations. Failure to adequately address this issue will contribute to problems of social cohesion. Islington Council therefore proposes a number of recommendations to improve NRPF services, including:
• political leaders and representative bodies should provide a lead for local authorities;
• the Home Office should issue interim guidance to and regulations for local authorities;
• the Home Office should set up a shared database detailing who local authorities are supporting to minimize risk of fraud and ensure adequate support;
• Local authorities should work together with the Home Office and partners in the voluntary sector to encourage a humane approach to refused asylum seekers focusing on finding a solution to their destitution and immigration problem.
- Resource Type
- Research report
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