High Court legal challenge to No Recourse to Public Funds policy

Wednesday 6 May 2020

Amanda Weston QC of Garden Court Chambers leading Bijan Hoshi and Ollie Persey of the Public Law Project instructed by the intervener, Project 17.

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Project 17, represented by the Public Law Project and Amanda Weston QC are challenging the Home Office's policy of imposing the No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) condition on migrants who are on the 10-year family/private life route to settlement. The case is being brought on behalf of a family affected by the policy and is being heard in the High Court on 6th and 7th May 2020. The Unity Project are supporting the case.

The ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ (NRPF) condition denies people who are ‘subject to immigration control’ access to social housing and most welfare benefits, including Universal Credit, child tax credits and child benefit, as well as support that is tied to benefits, such as free school meals. It affects undocumented migrants and most migrants granted limited leave to remain in the UK.

The claimant in the case argues that the Home Office’s policy of applying the NRPF condition is discriminatory, and that it is incompatible with Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) because it forces people into destitution. While individuals with leave to remain can apply to the Home Office to have the NRPF condition lifted (this is known as a ‘Change of Conditions’ application), the claimant argues that this is an inadequate protection.

This intervention seeks to support and strengthen the challenge against the NRPF policy by offering evidence on the availability and adequacy of support under section 17 of the Children Act 1989. The Government has used the existence of section 17 support to defend the NRPF policy. Yet the experience of supporting families with NRPF has shown that the 'safety net' of section 17 support is severely broken. The pressures of austerity and cuts to local authority budgets make it extremely difficult for families to access such support. 6 in 10 families who try to access section 17 support are refused, and those who manage to are provided with exceptionally low levels of support. This is having a detrimental impact on families, with many children being left street homeless or without enough money to eat or get to school. 

The legal challenge concerns the impact of the policy on those who have been granted ‘limited leave to remain’ with NRPF and are on the 10-year route to settlement. 

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