Today the Select Committee on Work and Pensions called for the No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) condition to be suspended during the Covid-19 pandemic.
We wholeheartedly support this call.
In their report, released today, the committee wrote:
As a result of the no recourse to public funds condition, many hardworking and law-abiding people are being left without a social safety net and at risk of destitution and homelessness. [...] during a pandemic it cannot be in the public interest to expect people, some of whom are key workers and front-line medical staff, to comply fully with restrictive public health guidance while simultaneously denying them full access to the welfare safety net.
Many people in our member organisations, including a number of key workers, have been left without a safety net during this crisis.
One of those is Hanna, a hospital care worker with No Recourse to Public Funds, who is part of Lewisham Citizens:
“I have faced an impossible choice, because I am a single mother, caring for my asthmatic young son. As a care worker at this time, we still have to go to work when we don’t have any support from anywhere. We still have to force ourselves to go and face it. I used up all of my savings to care for myself and my son. I feel left behind, while others are getting support.”
Our member schools and faith communities have been at the forefront of responding to this crisis.
Fiona Carrick-Davies, Family and Community Coordinator at Surrey Square Primary School, part of Southwark Citizens, says:
“We are grateful to the Select Committee for acknowledging the huge impact that having NRPF has on families, which has been particularly highlighted by the lack of support to those families throughout the Covid-19 crisis. Our school has been crowdfunding money for supermarket vouchers for those children affected by NRPF during school closure, as well as sending twice-weekly food parcels. Some of our parents with NRPF are frontline workers for the NHS or work as home-carers for the elderly, making significant and brave contributions to society.”
Dr John Clifton, Captain at Ilford Salvation Army, TELCO Leader, and founder of Project Malachi, says:
"Throughout the pandemic, we have been working hard to make sure that everybody has a safe place to stay regardless of what 'category' they fall in to. We really need everybody to have access to the resources they need to be able to build their life back up again from the trauma of being street homeless. We can't end street homelessness without also ending No Recourse to Public Funds."
During this crisis, we’ve seen people across the country step up to support our neighbours. Supported by civil society, the government has also stepped up in many ways, including by housing rough sleepers with NRPF and ensuring some families with NRPF can access Free School Meals. We have been campaigning for extended housing support for homeless people, including people with NRPF, to ensure all people can keep safe during the pandemic.
But we need to do more to support all our neighbours with NRPF.
We call on the UK Government to:
- Suspend NRPF immediately for the Covid-19 crisis, as per the recommendations of the Select Committee report, so nobody has to choose between following the public health guidance or supporting themselves and their family;
- Meet with a delegation of civil society leaders to discuss how we can work together to ensure that nobody in our community is left without support.
Find out how to get involved in our campaigns to support our neighbours with NRPF here.