LBW

Monday, 6 April 2020

NO RECOURSE TO PUBLIC FUNDS TURN-AROUND!


On 6th May, the government will be taken to court about the NRPF policy.

If you are affected by the ‘no recourse to public funds’ (NRPF) policy or know someone who is, we can support you to do these things:

Make an application for recourse to public funds today: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/application-for-change-of-conditions-of-leave-to-allow-access-to-public-funds-if-your-circumstances-change

Tell us how you get on - if the system isn’t working, we need to prove it. Please tell us about any problems or delays so that we can present this to the court and to the government

Support pressure on the government to suspend the policy before 6th May

Home Office agrees a rethink of 'no recourse to public funds' policy in light of coronavirus, following today's high court legal challenge.

3/4/20

Today's high court case, supported by The Unity Project and brought by a single mother with young children, had sought an urgent suspension of 'no recourse to public funds' (NRPF), to allow those who are now unable to work because of covid19 to have immediate access to welfare support.

The judges left the policy in place, but ordered that a full hearing on its legality should be heard urgently - setting a court date for four weeks' time (6,7 May). The hearing will finally put an end to many months of delay by the Home Office, which has repeatedly sought to dismiss or postpone the case, leaving thousands of families living in poverty.

At the hearing, the Home Office made a series of important concessions, including accepting for the first time that the legal challenge to NRPF raises 'serious issues', which should be looked at by the court urgently. It has also issued revised guidance to staff instructing them to 'provide sympathetic and expeditious decision making' during the pandemic when dealing with applicants seeking to have their NRPF condition lifted.

The law firm acting in the case, Deighton Pierce Glynn, have been pressing the Home Office for over a year to comply with its legal duty to produce a Policy Equality Statement on the impact of NRPF. Following today's hearing, the government has now been given a deadline of 21 April to comply, or the judges warned the May hearing will go ahead without it.

DPG partner Adam Hundt says:

'It's disappointing that the judges did not agree to immediately suspend the "no recourse to public funds" policy. We know April will be a long and bleak month for families who have lost some or all of their income because of the outbreak, and who were already in desperate straits. However, we welcome the expedited hearing, which puts us in a strong position to challenge the policy as a whole, and end the discrimination and damage it causes.'

The Unity Project coordinator Caz Hattam says:

'We have had assurances from the Home Office before that they will deal with applications to lift the "no recourse to public funds" condition quickly and compassionately, but that has never been our experience. Quite the opposite. We have no reason to expect this time will be different. However, we urge anyone in this situation to apply for a change of conditions as soon as possible, and let us know how they get on. We will be amassing evidence to show the court that the whole scheme is inhumane and needs to be dismantled.'

The Unity Project backs urgent call for 'no recourse to public funds' policy to be lifted during pandemic

3/4/20

The Unity Project is backing an emergency high court hearing today calling for immediate suspension of the Home Office's brutal 'no recourse to public funds' (NRPF), which is denying tens of thousands of working families access to the welfare safety net during the coronavirus outbreak.

The NRPF policy was introduced in 2012, and has led to thousands of children growing up in abject poverty, as their migrant mothers are blocked from receiving the same state support that other low-income families can claim, including child benefit, tax credits, or free school meals.


TUP co-ordinator Caz Hattam says:

'Since The Unity Project was set up three years ago, we've seen how the policy causes intense poverty even at the best of times. With coronavirus, the situation for the families we work with has become even more desperate. They are mainly single mums with young children doing low paid jobs, and now are facing the impossible choice of keeping working during the outbreak, putting themselves and others at risk, or stopping work, and having no means of paying rent or feeding their children.'

Today's legal challenge is being brought by the leading human rights law firm Deighton Pierce Glynn on behalf of a single mother with young children. The barrister in the case is Alex Goodman from Landmark Chambers. TUP is supporting the case by providing extensive evidence to the court of the destitution caused by the NRPF policy, and how the process where individuals can apply to the Home Office for the condition to be lifted is hopelessly flawed

TUP has seen countless cases where the Home Office has wrongly turned down applicants or demanded unrealistic and unnecessary amounts of evidence that NRPF has left them in destitution. In one case, the Home Office accepted a woman was sleeping on a sofa in an unconverted garage, but refused to lift her NRPF condition, as she had not included in her application a letter from anyone in officialdom to confirm such accommodation was unsuitable.

During the current pandemic, TUP has had to arrange emergency food deliveries to families who are still waiting for the Home Office to process their 'change of conditions' applications. Among the 20 applicants waiting to hear back are the mother of a young son, who usually works 50 hours a week in health care, who is now self-isolating. She is on medication for high blood pressure due to stress, and her condition makes her more vulnerable to coronavirus.

In another case, a pregnant woman with two children is living with the family of her ex-partner, who had told her to leave before the lockdown. She is unable to self-isolate, as the government advises during pregnancy, because other members of the household are not isolating. In another, a mother and her two autistic children are living in one room, where it is impossible for them to get the stimulation they need. She has no income and was being temporarily supported by a friend, but the friend has now lost work, too.

Since 2012, the Home Office has had a blanket policy of applying a 'no recourse to public funds condition' to anyone granted 'limited leave to remain' on the basis of family ties to the UK. The policy was intended to 'promote integration', but has resulted in children of these families, often black British children, being pushed to the margins of society, penalising them because of their mothers’ immigration status.

Adam Hundt, the partner at Deighton Pierce Glynn, who is leading the legal challenge says:

'These are the mothers of British children who have been working, paying tax and national insurance, and they are left with literally nothing and relying on charity. We want an immediate suspension of the 'no recourse to public funds' policy so these families can access basic welfare support during the crisis.'

In research published by The Unity Project last year, it found that 85% of those applying to have NRPF lifted are women, nearly all single mothers; 90% of them have British children; 95% of the children are black. Even before the pandemic, nearly three-quarters of those surveyed couldn't afford a hot meal for their children every day; over half had been forced to sleep on the floor or a chair at times; 6% had been street homeless; over 90% of their children never get a birthday cake.

If today's court action succeeds, it will mean the NRPF is immediately suspended, ahead of the full court action being brought by The Unity Project, which will argue that the policy should be permanently scrapped because it discriminates against women and ethnic minorities.

For further information, contact Fiona Bawdon: [email protected]

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