Joint letter: UK Government must scrap No Recourse to Public Funds policy
Published 2nd June 2020
Doctors of the World UK joins calls for the No Recourse to Public Funds policy to be scrapped amid rising destitution and demand for services
Doctors of the World UK has joined over 40 migrants’ rights organisations in calling for the No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) policy to be scrapped.
It comes amid increased demand for the charity’s advice line service and following the release of its Rapid Needs Assessment, which found many excluded groups, but particularly those with no recourse to public funds, have been forced into further poverty and destitution during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On May 27, appearing before the Liaison Committee, Prime Minister Boris Johnson committed to reviewing the NRPF policy, saying “people who’ve worked hard for this country, who live and work here, should have support of one kind or another”.
In an open letter to the Prime Minister, over 40 migrants’ rights organisations in the UK, including Doctors of the World, have welcomed this commitment and outlined the urgent changes that are needed to protect individuals and families affected by NRPF restrictions.
“Our staff have seen and heard first-hand the devastating impact of this ill-advised policy,” said Doctors of the World UK Policy and Advocacy Manager, Anna Miller.
“Many people in excluded migrant groups live hand-to-mouth as a result of the NRPF condition, despite having the legal right to live and work in the UK and contributing to the very taxpayer-funded benefits programmes they are prohibited from accessing.”
Miller said for those already living in or near destitution, the narrowing of job opportunities and additional financial pressures created by the pandemic has left them without enough to eat or stable accommodation.
“Our Rapid Needs Assessment reveals excluded groups in England are experiencing new destitution and homelessness during the pandemic. This was particularly the case among those with no recourse to public funds,” she said.
“Increased levels of destitution then increase people’s susceptibility to contracting COVID-19 and presents a risk to the health of the wider population.”
The reported rise of destitution by interview participants is corroborated by Doctors of the World staff operating the charity’s advice line.
“They report a significant increase in calls from people facing destitution since the start of the pandemic,” said Miller. “Doctors of the World has been required to divert resources to match this increase in demand.”
The Rapid Needs Assessment, which looked at the pandemic’s impact on a wide range of excluded people, makes 12 recommendations, one of which is to immediately suspend hostile environment policies that prevent access to public services for migrants in vulnerable circumstances.
“We must urgently act on the High Court ruling to lift the ‘no recourse to public funds’ condition on all visas,” said Miller.
“No one’s path to regularising their immigration status should be jeopardised or delayed in the process of removing NRPF conditions from a visa.”
Find out more about the Rapid Needs Assessment and its recommendations here.
You can view a copy of the joint letter below.