Many people in the UK immigration system are subject to the ‘no recourse to public funds’ (NRPF) condition, which means that they are unable to access mainstream welfare benefits.
This includes most benefits, tax credits and housing assistance provided by the government. As a result, several cohorts within the UK population are at a serious risk of becoming destitute.
The NRPF condition has become a subject of considerable controversy in recent years. The widespread job losses since the onset of the pandemic – combined with strict social distancing rules and travel restrictions – meant that many people subject to NRPF lost their income and yet were shut out of key government support measures. The limited nature of this social safety net meant that others were left with little option but to continue working to protect their livelihoods, in spite of the risks to their health.
As a result, calls to suspend or abolish the policy have intensified in the wake of the pandemic. The government now plans to extend the NRPF condition to further cohorts of people in the immigration system.