Councils to safeguard homeless people with NRPF from coronavirus

27 March 2020

Accommodation for people with no recourse to public funds to be provided by councils

The Government has asked to councils to support rough sleepers and other vulnerable homeless people into accommodation by the end of the week.

In its letter to local authority chief executives, the Government has advised that local authorities utilise alternative powers and funding to assist those with no recourse to public funds (NRPF) who require shelter and other forms of support due to the pandemic.

Councils already have statutory duties to provide accommodation and financial support to families, adults with care needs and care leavers with no recourse to public funds. However, these duties do not apply to adults who do not have care needs or dependent children in their household. The Government is therefore asking councils to act outside of their statutory responsibilities by providing accommodation to people with NRPF as part of the wider homelessness response to the coronavirus pandemic.

As well as urgently finding housing for people who are currently homeless, councils may need to respond to increasing requests for support from people with NRPF through social care or other housing routes. We are aware that many people who have leave to remain with the NRPF condition have suddenly lost employment due to reasons related to coronavirus, and as consequence will be at risk of homelessness and destitution as they are unable to access the safety net offered by the Government through the benefit system.

In order to help councils with their responses we have produced a factsheet which includes information about:

  • Support for people with NRPF, including good practice already being undertaken by councils and supporting people during the pandemic when social services' duties are engaged
  • Rights and entitlements of people with NRPF to government assistance being provided during the pandemic
  • Changes to Home Office immigration and asylum processes

The Local Government Association (LGA) has raised serious challenges that councils will face meeting this request in such a short timeframe. Although £1.6 billion funding has been announced, it is unclear how councils will be able to access that to support urgent efforts that are already underway to accommodate vulnerable homeless groups.

Local authority staff are encouraged to contact us to tell us about any changes to demand for services and to share their responses to the challenges that are arising to help inform further editions of this factsheet and share good practice across the sector. 

It will also be important to record details of any support provided to people due to coronavirus to help evidence costs and demand when we work with the LGA and other sector bodies to raise impacts on local government. 

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