No recourse to public funds

This page helps partners work together to share good practice and adopt new approaches when working with people with no recourse to public funds (NRPF).

It clarifies definitions and offers local information and enables partners to focus on relevant issues for Cambridgeshire.

This does not constitute legal advice. It is important to secure expert advice as individuals have unique legal and immigration statuses

Introduction

The Immigration Act 2016 details local authority support for certain destitute migrant families and care leavers with NRPF (NRPF) and the duty to conduct Human Rights Assessments in some circumstances.

People who have NRPF are those who have no legal entitlement to financial support or assistance from the state due to restrictions to their immigration status in the UK. They may self-refer for support or could be referred from other agencies.

Children's Social Care Services are likely to be approached by families with children or by children or young people who are unaccompanied or separated from their parent or legal/customary caregiver.

These families may be:

  • People with refugee status from another European Economic Area (EEA) country other than the UK or their dependents.
  • People who are citizens of an EEA country other than the UK or their dependents.
  • Failed asylum seekers who have finished their appeal rights and who have not co-operated with removal directions.
  • Persons who are unlawfully present in the UK who are not asylum-seekers. This could be:
    • People who have overstayed their leave to remain
    • People who have been trafficked into the country
    • People who entered the country illegally.
  • People who have been granted limited leave to remain on the condition that they have NRPF. For example people
    • who are spouses/unmarried partners of persons with British citizenship
    • with indefinite leave to remain
    • who have successfully applied to the Home Office under the Zambrano rule;
  • People who have been granted discretionary leave to remain. For example:
    • 'separated' children or young people from non-suspensive appeal countries whom the Home Office does not grant either refugee status or humanitarian protection, and are given 30 months’ leave to remain or until they turn 17.5 years old, whichever is shorter;
    • People on student visas who are unable to work and have NRPF.

(This list is by no means exhaustive. It provides examples of the categories of people who may present to Children's Social Care as destitute and have NRPF).

Social workers should investigate whether a family/young person is resident in Cambridgeshire or another local authority. Assess each family’s circumstances on a case by case basis. If a family has not lived in Cambridgeshire or has only briefly lived there, refer the family back to the local authority in which they live.

Families with NRPF usually present in one of two different ways:

  • Self-referral without an appointment;
  • Self-referral or referral by an external agency, by appointment.

At the point of referral, the social worker should establish as far as possible which local authority has territorial authority for the child/children. Families may have come from another local authority and there may already be ongoing child protection investigations, or they may have been assessed in relation to their destitution. If that is the case, the social worker will check whether the family should be referred back to that local authority before considering a new referral.

Once a referral has been accepted, social workers need to consider if there is a possibility or evidence to suggest that the child is in need or in need of protection.

If there is a strong possibility of such needs as outlined above, a C&F Assessment should be undertaken.

If the adult parent appears to have care and support needs of their own, then they should be referred to Adult Services for a needs assessment. Adult Services would determine whether it is necessary to conduct a Human Rights assessment in addition to a needs assessment to determine their eligibility to receive services.

When interviewing members of the family, social workers should explore existing sources of help and support

  • in the community
  • voluntary groups
  • religious groups
  • social networks etc.

Social workers will attempt to establish the family’s immigration status as part of the assessment process by contacting the Home Office: https://www.gov.uk/check-immigration-status

Local authorities have a duty to inform the Home Office of anyone who is unlawfully present in the UK or is a failed asylum seeker and has approached the local authority for assistance. You can do this through the same enquiry process.

The Home Office will confirm whether the family

  • are British citizens
  • are persons subject to immigration control and with NRPF
  • have outstanding asylum or human rights claims, applications or appeals pending at the Home Office.

If the applicant comes within categories A to D mentioned on pages 1-2 of this policy, and the C and F Assessment identifies that the child is a child in need, then the local authority should conduct a Human Rights assessment to determine whether the failure to provide support would lead to a breach of the family’s human rights under the European Convention on Human Rights or their European Community treaty rights (if they are an EEA national – see the link at the back of this document). Conduct the Human Rights assessment alongside a C and F Assessment.

Where an applicant has informed a social worker during assessment that he/she has an immigration application pending, the social worker must obtain the applicant’s consent to request progress on their application to learn the grounds upon which the application was made, using the Declaration of Truth and Formal Consent to Enquiries Form signed by the applicant.

Families with NRPF will normally be ineligible for support under the Children Act 1989 unless they are destitute. Destitution is defined in section 95 Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 as a person who either (a) does not have adequate accommodation or any means of obtaining it (whether or not his other essential living needs are met); or (b) has adequate accommodation or the means of obtaining it, but cannot meet his other essential living needs.

Where an applicant has sent an asylum claim (based on Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights) to the Home Office and is waiting for it to be determined, they may be eligible for accommodation and financial support from the Home Office under section 95 Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. If this is the case, the local authority has no power to provide support.

The onus is on the applicant to prove their destitution. Social workers should request that the family provides documentary evidence that shows they cannot secure anywhere adequate to live, or that they can’t meet their essential day to day living costs despite being able to secure somewhere to live. The council's counter-fraud officers are able to assist if there are concerns regarding financial information provided.

Social workers must consider if the information given both verbally and in documentary form is authentic and consistent. If it is not, social workers should record the evidence of why this is, in the C&F Assessment and the human rights assessment and financial assessment, if applicable. It is important that social workers properly record issues of inconsistency in families reporting of events.

There is case law to suggest that where an applicant appears to lack details and clarity in the account of their destitution, due to factual inconsistencies, or refuses to provide important information when requested, a local authority may lawfully discharge any duty to support such an applicant and their family. Where required, advice can be sought from Legal Services by social workers.

As part of any assessment, social workers will need to request key documents that will assist them in completing the assessment:

To have their application considered, the person seeking support must sign a Declaration of Truth and Formal Consent to Enquiries form at the point of application.

The person seeking a service must have sufficient identification. This may not be possible if, for example, the person is fleeing domestic abuse. In such cases establish evidence at a later date via the assistance of a solicitor or the police.

If they do not bring the necessary documentation on first presentation, the assessment can still go ahead. However, the social worker must inform them that any decisions regarding provision of support can only be made when they have provided the appropriate documents. Arrange this before scheduling another interview.

If a person requires an interpreter , ensure the interpreter informs them of the documentation required.

Ask those seeking a service to verify their identity and immigration status with the following forms of identification:

  • Passports and birth certificates for all members of the family
  • Marriage certificate, or divorce documents including court orders
  • If available, travel documents e.g. return air tickets
  • Home Officer papers (Application Registration Card (ARC), application letters or refusal letters) and solicitors' letters
  • If available, bank account statements from each bank account held in the UK and abroad (from the last 3 months)
  • Signed letters from family / friends / community groups who have been supporting the family;
  • Proof of GP details, schools or nursery settings being attended;
  • Documents relating to residence e.g. any notices of eviction, possession orders.

All identification documents supplied must be original documents. They should be photo-copied or scanned and the copy/scanned documents retained on the relevant file.

If the application or any dependents have health needs, they must provide any documented evidence of ill health or disability e.g. OT reports, mental health/psychiatric reports.

If the local authority finds it necessary to verify financial information, they can initiate a credit search on the applicant and anyone else involved in their claim. Before carrying out the search, the local authority should ensure the applicant has signed the Declaration of Truth form.

If the family appears to be destitute, the local authority does in certain circumstances as described above, have the power to provide temporary accommodation and financial support pending completion of the Child and Family Assessment, Financial Assessment and the Human Rights assessment. Any decision to provide urgent temporary accommodation or financial subsistence pending assessment must be agreed at the relevant panel or Assistant Director level in an emergency.

Social workers must write to the applicant informing them that accommodation/subsistence is being provided on a temporary basis only, and on a without prejudice basis, pending completion of assessments. The letter should also state that this support is subject to review and may be withdrawn at any time. Any accommodation provided should be sufficient to ensure the child/children’s safety.

The amount of any financial support will be determined on a case by case basis dependent on the presenting financial circumstances of each family.

The Court of Appeal in R (C, T, M & U) v LB Southwark (2016) did not make a finding on that decision but observed that:

‘ …a level of support considered adequate simply to avoid destitution in the case of a failed asylum-seeker is unlikely to be sufficient to safeguard and promote the welfare of a child in need and by extension the essential needs of the parent on whom the child depends for care. Ultimately what matters is whether the assessment when completed adequately recognises the needs of the particular child.'

When the assessments are completed, the social worker should discuss the outcome of the assessment with their line manager. The potential outcomes could be:

· To accept the family’s application for support or agree to continue support pending a decision from the Home Office in relation to their immigration status;

· To reject the family’s application for support or terminate any existing support;

· To request further evidence before making a decision.

  • To accept the family’s application for support or agree to continue support pending a decision from the Home Office in relation to their immigration status;
  • To reject the family’s application for support or terminate any existing support;
  • To request further evidence before making a decision.

Child in Need/in Need of Protection

Where the outcome of the C and F Assessment is that the child is a CIN/CP, they would require the same level of visiting/review meetings as any other child being supported within the these categories.

Where the conclusion is that a family require support with accommodation in order to avoid a breach of their human rights, the social worker will explore with the family whether there are any family/friends/voluntary, religious and community groups that may be able to assist with the provision of accommodation in the first instance. The level of support will vary on a case by case basis according to the particular circumstances of each family.

Where alternative informal support (as described above) is unavailable, Access to Resources will take steps to identify accommodation in the private-rented sector. As Cambridgeshire cover a large and financially diverse geographical area, the accommodation sourced will be based on factors including cost effectiveness, suitability and proximity to LA offices. Only use B&B accommodation as an emergency or short-term provision. NRPF families will usually be provided with accommodation under a Licence to Occupy, rather than a tenancy agreement. Access to Resources Team (ART) Business Support will pay the utility provider/council directly for utility bills including gas, electric, water, sewage, council tax and communal charges.

Accommodation should be adequate to ensure the safety and well-being of the child or children. The local authority is not able to guarantee that any accommodation will be in Cambridgeshire, or that it will meet specific requirements requested by the individual parent or young person.

The duration of support with the provision of accommodation will be determined by the outcome of the Home Office decision, or until the family’s circumstances change. Review the family’s circumstances every 3 months to determine whether the family remains destitute without support from the local authority.

Social workers should seek the approval of the FSRP for any continuation of support. The Panel will review each case at a minimum of every 12 weeks.

Financial support can be agreed if indicated by the outcome of the Financial Assessment.

Social workers and managers need to be mindful of the findings made by the High Court in R(PO) v LB Newham (2014) relating the amount of support provided:

  • Child benefit is not designed to meet the subsistence needs of children so it is not rational or lawful to set standard rates in line with these amounts.
  • When it is in the child’s best interests for the family to remain together, payments for the parents should be made in addition to those considered appropriate to meet the needs of the children but are not required to exceed what is necessary to avoid a breach of the parent’s human rights.

Lack of complaint from a family does not mean that the local authority can be sure that it is making payments appropriate to meet the child’s needs.

ART will either make subsistence payments by

  • BACS transfer to the parent(s) bank account or
  • a Pre-Payment Card loaded with weekly subsistence payments, if they do not hold a UK bank account due to the restrictions imposed by the Immigration Act 2014,

Subsistence support, for

  • food

  • toiletries

  • clothing

  • PAYG top up/mobile credit

  • local bus travel

  • and other essentials

will be provided at an equivalent level to Asylum Support under Section 95 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.

The standards rates from 1 September 2023 are:

Single parent (18+)

£50.72 weekly

Couple (18+)

£101.45 weekly

Child 3-18

£50.72 weekly

Additional payments

Expectant mother

£4.50 weekly

Child under 1

£9.00 weekly

Child aged 1-3

£4.50 weekly

Maternity Grant (on receipt of MAT B1 certificate)

£300 one off

The above rates are a percentage of Universal credit. We use this as a guide. This is because it contains a housing expense which is met directly by the council for eligible NRPF families

School meals and nursery placements for children 2 and over are available free of change to families with NRPF who have eligible children.

The above allowances are correct as of 25th August 2023 and are set in line with the Asylum support: What you'll get - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk). It reflects national findings of the increase in the cost of living of 28% since 2020 when the last review took place.

we calculate the correct payment by adding the relevant elements in the above table together (depending on family composition).

ART Business Support will arrange to pay the rent direct to the landlord or letting agent.

Additional needs may be specific to each family. The social worker will need to consult with their team manager to agree what discretion to give. For example, a child may have specific health or educational needs, or to provide short-term child care funding may enable the parent to start work and reduce or stop reliance on Section 17 support.

In some circumstances, NRPF families may be in receipt of Child Benefit (CB). For example EU nationals who were claiming CB when they were working, but are ineligible for Universal Credit due to pre-settled status. Where a family receives CB or another income means, this is deducted from the allowance on a pound-for-pound basis.

Occasionally, it may be necessary to provide financial assistance to make an immigration application to the Home Office so that the family can achieve an immigration status which gives them recourse to public funds. This could be to apply for Leave outside the Immigration Rules or to naturalise as British (e.g. for a child who has lived in the UK for many years). It may be necessary to pay solicitors fees in order to prepare and submit an application. Consider each case individually.

Record all financial assistance given centrally and keep up to date to ensure there is a record of all expenditure on NRPF supported families.

Where a person states in writing that he or she is not satisfied that the amount paid meets the subsistence needs of the family and that a further sum is required to meet those subsistence needs, CCC will conduct an internal review within 21 days of receipt of that written request in order to determine whether further support is required and in what form. The SRP can agree any such assessed request at the next available panel meeting. Communicate the panel's decision to the family in writing.

Where it is assessed that support or assistance is necessary, we should regularly review it. The responsible social worker must keep themselves informed of any change in the person’s circumstances. This includes changes in a person’s immigration status, which may affect CCC obligation to provide support or assistance.

Support with the provision of financial support is to be provided only until determination of any pending Home Office decision, or until the family’s circumstances change. Review the family’s circumstances every 3 months to determine whether the family remains destitute without financial support from the local authority.

Whilst support with accommodation and/or financial support is ongoing, social workers will work with families to ensure the families seek resolution to their destitution via the Home Office and/or employment. Other cost of living payment and support that have been announced by the Government are either 'public funds' or are only available to a person who is in receipt of benefits.

Therefore, the following measures will not be available to a person with no recourse to public funds:

  • £650 Cost of Living payment for those on benefits

  • £300 Pensioner Cost of Living Payment

  • £150 Disability Cost of Living Payment

  • Winter Fuel Payment

  • Cold Weather Payment

 

The decision to terminate support for an ongoing case should be made by the Assistant Director. This needs to be informed with an up-to-date assessment.

The social worker will need to inform the parents if their support is to be terminated. This should be done in an interview, with the use of an interpreter if necessary.

Support could be terminated in a variety of different scenarios, including where the applicant is granted indefinite leave to remain and is granted access to state benefits and social housing. Or where an applicant with limited leave to remain has their NRPF condition lifted by the Home Office, or finds employment. In these instances, social workers will support applicants with signposting to Housing and accessing state benefits and Jobcentre.

The social worker should arrange for a letter to be sent to the persons setting out the reasons for termination of support and giving a reasonable notice period from when support will terminate. This will range from 14 to 28 days depending on the family’s individual circumstances. They should be informed they can seek legal advice if they disagree with the decision.

Where support is refused at the outset, this should also be recorded in writing and provided in a letter to the family setting out the reasons why they are not eligible.

A family may wish at any time to return to their country of origin voluntarily. The human rights assessment may conclude that there would be no breach of the family’s human rights should they be forced to return to their country of origin. In such circumstances, the local authority should refer the applicant to the Home Office Voluntary Departures team, who may be able to assist with the cost of flights. Contact details are available at the back of this document.

If the applicant is not available for this support, the local authority does have the power to provide the cost of travel home and minimal relocation costs.

This chapter sets out what to consider when parents who are seeking asylum, or have been refused asylum, approach the local authority for assistance, and whether the local authority or Home Office will be responsible for providing support to their families.

Whether the Home Office or local authority will be responsible for providing accommodation and financial support depends on the type of Home Office support that a family will be eligible for under the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999: section 4 or section 95.

The local authority would need to check with the Home Office to establish the status of the parent’s asylum claim in order to determine which type of support is available to them. It will be important to obtain confirmation that the parent has claimed asylum, whether the claim is still pending and if it has been refused, the dates of the initial refusal and date the parent became appeal rights exhausted if they have received a final determination by the courts.

Responsibility for providing support is governed by legislation and case law:

  • If the family are eligible for or are receiving support from the Home Office under section 95, then section 122 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 prevents the local authority from providing financial support and/or accommodation to a child under section 17 Children Act 1989. Such families who approach the local authority need to be assisted to apply for section 95 support.
  • If the family are eligible for section 4 support, then a referral to the Home Office for this can only be made if such support is ‘available and adequate’. The local authority must have confirmation from the Home Office that section 4 support will be provided and must be able to demonstrate that the support will meet the child’s assessed needs, although the courts have suggested that it is unlikely that section 4 support would be sufficient to meet a child’s needs.

Even when a family can be referred to the Home Office for support, either because they are eligible for section 95 support, or section 4 support has been assessed as being sufficient to meet a child’s needs, it may fall to the local authority to provide accommodation and financial support under section 17 of the Children Act 1989 if there are delays in accessing Home Office support and the child in need assessment establishes that the family have no alternative funds or housing available.

The provision of support under section 17 is not limited by Schedule 3 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, for families where the parent has a pending asylum claim which has not been finally determined, or where the parent claimed asylum at port of entry, even if they have been refused and are appeal rights exhausted.

However, the Schedule 3 exclusion will apply where the parent:

  • claimed asylum after they entered the UK (rather than at the port of entry), or
  • failed to comply with removal directions, or
  • has been certified by the Home Office as failing to take steps to leave the UK voluntarily.

In such cases, section 17 support may only be provided where this is necessary to prevent a breach of the family’s human rights, i.e., there is a legal or practical barrier preventing them from returning to the parent’s country of origin. The local authority will need to undertake a human rights assessment as well as a child in need assessment to establish this.