News

Emergency funding to prevent homelessness

Published: 12 Jul 2020 00:01

Call for UK Government to provide support.

Ministers have demanded that the UK government suspend their restrictions in order to prevent homelessness and destitution among people who have No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF).

More than £875,000 has been provided by the Scottish Government and local authorities during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that people with no access to financial support are kept safe and secure, which Ministers are seeking compensation for.

NRPF is a condition imposed on someone due to their immigration status which restricts access to welfare support including Universal Credit, child benefit, housing benefit, the Scottish Welfare Fund and a range of allowances and tax credits.

Ministers have written to UK Immigration Minister Chris Philp on a number of occasions regarding the suspension of NRPF and recompense for the £600,000 spent in Scotland to accommodate people and £275,000 spent to support their basic living costs. A response is yet to be received.

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said:

“The Scottish Government is not prepared to abandon some of the most vulnerable in our society at a time when they need our help the most.

“The economic impacts of the pandemic are pushing thousands of people further into poverty and  hindering their work opportunities. However, thanks to a rapid and coordinated response in Scotland, we have been able to accommodate people who would otherwise be facing destitution, so that they can protect themselves and others during the COVID-19 crisis.

“As a result, many of those restricted by the UK Government’s harmful NRPF policy who were previously sleeping rough or in unsuitable night shelters, and are now being supported in hotels and other self-contained accommodation.

“But the Scottish Government, local authorities and third sector have had to pick up the tab, without additional support from the UK Government.

“So I am again asking that the UK government do the right thing and immediately lift the restrictions of NRPF for the duration of the Coronavirus crisis on public health grounds. Furthermore, the money spent just to ensure that everyone in our society is treated fairly and equitably must be repaid.”          

Background

No Recourse to Public Funds is a condition imposed on someone due to their immigration status. Section 115 Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 states that a person will have ‘no recourse to public funds’ if they are ‘subject to immigration control’. Claiming a public fund when a person's immigration conditions prohibit this could affect their status and future immigration applications.