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Published 30 Nov 2022

Social services’ expenditure on households with no recourse to public funds reaches £64 million per annum

Local authorities using NRPF Connect face continued demand for essential ‘safety-net’ support with European Economic Area (EEA) nationals at greater risk of destitution.

By the end of the 2021-2022 financial year, 72 councils were providing 3423 households with accommodation and financial support at a collective cost of £64 million per annum.

Collective data underlines the role that councils continue to play in alleviating destitution faced by families, adults and children leaving care who are not able to access benefits and housing because of having ‘no recourse to public funds’ (NRPF).

When statutory duties to alleviate homelessness and destitution are engaged, successful interventions to resolve cases necessitate helping people get immigration advice to address their complex immigration issues with the Home Office. 83% percent of families and 60% percent of adults exited support because a change of immigration status allowing access to benefits, housing and other entitlements.

A high resolution rate through grants of Leave to Remain, often on private and family life or long residency grounds, indicates that many people have strong ties to the UK or face other exceptional barriers to return including as a result of poor-health. 26% of supported families have at least one child who is British with applications to stay in the UK under the immigration rules likely to succeed. 

In 2021-2022 individuals with a European Economic Area (EEA) immigration status or EEA nationality became the largest group by immigration status of all people being referred to social services for assistance. People with Leave to Remain (LTR) with NRPF, or who have ‘recourse’ but are facing challenges renewing their leave whilst on a route to settlement, also comprise a large proportion of all referrals and supported households.

When it comes to addressing homeless and destitution because of restrictions to benefits and housing, councils are now as likely to work with people who have a right to be in the UK as they are with people who are ‘in breach of immigration law’.

Local authorities will be concerned that recommendations made in 2021 following the 2021-2022 data report, which included a call for ending use of the NRPF condition, have not led to significant policy or funding changes. Indeed, councils must organise themselves on a ‘business-as-usual’ footing because demand for social services’ interventions in this area will not reduce.

With delays in asylum decision-making under scrutiny, it is also important that timescales in the immigration system are not overlooked. Just as is the case within the Home Office's asylum support system, quicker decision-making would expedite case resolution and reduce spend.

The NRPF Network would like to acknowledge the role Home Office staff play in responding to council enquiries over NRPF Connect database. The Home Office has stabilised the staffing establishment of this team and agreed Service Level Agreement (SLA) response times are now consistently being met.

The recommendations made by the NRPF Network following the 2021-2022 data report place an emphasis on practical steps to ease pressures on councils and to support cost-effective service provision, they supplement the larger scale requests for change made in 2021.

As we enter the New Year, there is reason for optimism that if we can unlock the issues that lead to individuals remaining on council support for years whilst avoiding creating new groups of people with NRPF, existing decision-making backlogs will decrease and case-resolution rates will improve.

Equally, if the Government can build on the achievements in 2022 of making free school meals and early education available to all disadvantaged children, perhaps other cost-of-living assistance can also be better targeted at households who are not in receipt of benefits, thereby avoiding crisis and future referrals to social services.

Finally, in 2023 we hope to see a way forward for people with ‘pre-settled’ status under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) who cannot exercise a qualifying right to reside for benefit purposes due to age, illness, disability or other reason. It is important for councils and NHS teams not to remain trapped into providing financial support for this vulnerable group whose residency rights are already protected under the EUSS.

Read the full report for 2021-22 online