​Opposition increases to use of NRPF condition that causes destitution

​31 July 2018​

Home Office responds to concerns but wider policy change is needed

Earlier this year we reported that the Home Office made some small but significant revisions to its policy of imposing the NRPF condition on leave to remain granted under the family and private life rules when people are on the 10-year settlement route. Following ongoing work we have carried out with the Children’s Society to draw political attention to problems people have experienced as a result of having the NRPF condition imposed, the Home Office has now revised application form FLR(FP), which people will use when they apply for leave under the family migration rules. 

Although changes to the form and policy are welcome, they do not go far enough to mitigate the impact of restricting access to welfare benefits and social housing for single parent families and individuals who are unable to work due to a disability or other vulnerabilities. It is therefore positive that more politicians have joined the call to oppose the imposition of the NRPF condition on these vulnerable groups.

Background 

Leave to remain on the 10-year settlement route is typically granted to single parents of British children or children who have lived in the UK for seven years, or people who have lived in the UK for a long time and previously had no immigration permission. The NRPF condition is routinely imposed unless the applicant can demonstrate that without access to public funds, they would be destitute. The full policy is set out in Home Office guidance.

When the NRPF condition is imposed, people face difficulties obtaining or sustaining employment as they are unable to claim benefits to top-up a low income, and are dependent on unstable and expensive accommodation in the private sector. For families, unaffordable child care and high private sector rents mean that parents are often unable to work or earn sufficient income from employment to cover those costs as well as meeting their children’s basic living needs. Often vulnerable individuals or those who are unable to work, for example, due to caring responsibilities, will also face challenges managing without access to welfare benefits. As a consequence, people who have been accepted as having a right to settle in the UK permanently are disadvantaged and can face destitution and barriers integrating within their communities. 

The NRPF policy has led to increasing demand for local authority support and also hinders the ability of practitioners to help families find an expedient pathway out of dependency on social services’ support: 

  • The NRPF condition has been applied to people receiving housing and financial assistance from their local authority, despite this being provided to alleviate their destitution.
  • Difficulties applying for a Change of Conditions to have the NRPF condition removed has led to delays in people transferring from social services’ support to mainstream benefits.
  • People have had the NRPF condition imposed when they have extended their leave to remain, causing a sudden loss of benefits and, in some cases, homelessness and a repeat presentation to the local authority for assistance.
Action taken to address these problems

Since 2014, we have raised our members’ concerns about the policy at regular meetings with senior Home Office officials. This led to an improvement of working arrangements through NRPF Connect, resulting in fewer cases of people who are supported by social services having the NRPF condition imposed. The NRPF policy was amended in February this year to direct Home Office caseworkers to place a greater weight on social services’ support as being sufficient evidence of destitution in most cases. 

However, the broad use of the NRPF condition still remains a problem. Although the imposition of the NRPF condition is widely recognised as being used to reduce the burden of migration on the taxpayer and to promote employment to facilitate integration, forming part of the Government’s overall strategy to reduce net migration, the Home Office has recognised that these families and individuals’ futures remain in the UK by granting leave to remain on a settlement route. Therefore, any barriers to sustaining stable housing, employment and education will only lead to increased poverty and hinder integration. 

On 3 July 2017, with the Children’s Society, we convened a private roundtable at Parliament to highlight the challenges faced by these families and the third sector and local government's role in providing support, including the difficulties people face demonstrating that they are destitute when applying to the Home Office to have the NRPF condition removed.

Following the roundtable, a letter was sent by a group of cross party Peers and MPs, and the Local Government Association (LGA), to several government ministers recommending that people with limited leave to remain who are on 10-year settlement routes do not have the NRPF condition imposed when they have dependants under 18. In the absence of such a policy change, some minimum recommendations were made:

  • This group should not have a NRPF condition applied, or reapplied following an extension of their leave, without a full assessment of the impact of imposing the NRPF condition on the welfare of children living in the household.
  • Passported benefits, such as free school meals and childcare for 2 year olds, as well as the 30 hours extension of childcare for 3 and 4 year olds in working families and the new tax-free childcare scheme, should be made available to families where the parent(s) have leave to remain with NRPF.
  • Local Welfare Assistance should not be classified as a public fund under the Immigration Rules. 
Following this, with the Children’s Society and LGA we met with Home Office policy officials to present more information about the problems incurred by people and our services, and made recommendations about how the leave to remain application form could be amended to provide applicants with a better opportunity to present information about their financial circumstances to avoid having the NRPF condition imposed when further leave is applied for. 

We are pleased that application form FLR(FP), used by people applying for leave under the family migration rules, now includes clearer information for applicants at question 5.13 about why providing evidence of their finances with their application is so important each time they apply to extend their leave. 

However, to have the best possible chance of success in their ap​plication, people will need to obtain legal advice, but legal aid is unavailable for this type of immigration case. In order to highlight this additional problem, we have  submitted evide​nce to the Ministry of Justice's review of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO), which resulted in most immigration matters being taken out of scope of legal aid. 

Need for wider change

Despite changes being made to the policy and application form, we still oppose the imposition of the NRPF condition on families and vulnerable adults due to the negative impact this has on the individuals concerned and wider communities. 

We are therefore pleased that the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Ending Homelessness has considered evidence that we submitted, along with submissions from other organisations, and has recommended that the NRPF condition is not imposed on people who have dependants under 18, care leavers, or victims of domestic abuse and modern slavery. 

We will continue to work with partners to raise the issues set out above and would still like to be kept informed by local authorities of any difficulties they and their communities are facing due to this policy. We would like to thank users of NRPF Connect who have taken the time over the last few years to provide case examples to help demonstrate what the impact of this has been on local authority NRPF service provision. 

Related documents 

  • Home Office policy: Appendix FM Section 1.0b, family life (as a partner or parent) and private life: 10-year routes
  • Home Office application form and guidance FLR(FP)​ 
  • NRPF Network evidence submission: Impact of LASPO on local authorities supporting destitute migrants and migrant children in care​ (June 2018)
  • APPG for Ending Homelessness Report 2 (July 2018)