Schools from across London went to Parliament last year to call for access to Free School Meals for children who have no recourse to public funds (NRPF). This is one of the many Citizens UK campaigns on NRPF.
Covid-19 has shone a brighter light on the injustices that many migrants face. Many of our neighbours are unable to access government help because of where they were born, and the immigration papers they have.
This is because of a government policy called No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) that denies people living and working in the UK crucial forms of support from the government. Without assistance like Universal Credit and housing benefit, many people - including 100,000 children - are feeling stranded and left without a safety net.
“I had to use up all of my savings to care for myself and my son,” said Hanna, a care worker with No Recourse to Public Funds who is based in South London. “My son couldn’t even get Free School Meals because of this. I felt left behind, while others are getting support.” You can read her full blog here.
Even the Prime Minister Boris Johnson agrees. On May 27th, 2020 in response to Stephen Timms MP, he said: "Clearly people who have worked hard for this country, who live and work here, should have support of one kind or another." He pledged to “see what we can do to help.”
These are some issues that Citizens leaders have been working on to make lives better for people with NRPF:
FREE SCHOOL MEALS
On May 29th, 2020, the government announced that the children of parents with no recourse to public funds (NRPF) could get free school meals through their schools if their parents are earning less than £16,190.
This means that more children will qualify for Free School Meals and is a welcome change that Citizens UK members have been calling for.
Last year, schoolchildren from across London went to parliament to ask the Children’s Minister to allow children in families with NRPF to access Free School Meals, so they wouldn’t go hungry at school. You can read the report, written by school children and students from UCL’s Institute of Education, here.
Rosheniqua, one of the students who led the action that day, had this to say about the recent government announcement:
Stuart Tannock, Associate Professor at the Institute of Education, UCL, said:
“This is great news, and the government should be applauded for these positive actions. But the need for Free School Meals for children from families with NRPF restrictions will not end when the Covid-19 crisis ends.
“The government needs to make sure that free school meals are always made available to any child who needs them, regardless of their citizenship or immigration status; and it needs to abolish the incredibly harmful, punitive and inhumane NRPF policy once and for all.”
While we welcome these steps in the right direction, for many people they don’t go far enough.
There are still thousands of people in our communities who are unable to work and have no access to benefits so are left without any source of income. NRPF needs to end. Nobody should be left behind. Not now, not ever.
The government has instructed local authorities to house all rough sleepers regardless of immigration status for the duration of Covid-19.
The Citizens UK homelessness team has been organising to ensure that people aren’t put back on the streets because of their immigration status once the pandemic is over.
No one should be left homeless due to their immigration status.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP?
- Sign up to here to keep updated about our campaigns to end No Recourse to Public Funds and how you can get involved.
- Call your local MP and let them know you want support for migrants who have No Recourse to Public Funds now! Click here to find your MP
Share this page with your family and friends
- Join our actions teams by speaking to your local organiser. Find your chapter here.
Over the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing stories of migrant leaders who are campaigning in communities across the country for change.
Read more here from Hanna, a care worker in London, who speaks about how No Recourse to Public Funds has affected her even more in lockdown.