5. Annex A: Local authority models of service delivery: tackling destitution at local level
Local authorities across Scotland are delivering key services to support people with NRPF who are destitute or at risk of destitution. Alongside the programme of work covered under specific actions within the Ending Destitution Together strategy, councils continue to adapt and innovate their approaches in order to provide holistic support and to contribute to the wider ambition of ending destitution in Scotland.
Below are a few examples of the work Scottish councils are doing in this area:
Historically in Aberdeenshire, NRPF presentations were relatively low but over the last 2 years services and partners have been anecdotally reporting a steady increase in cases. This could be for a number of reasons including an increase in visas being issued with NRPF conditions, wider asylum dispersal and an overall increase in migration movement around the UK. Services most likely to encounter NRPF presentations in Aberdeenshire are Housing and Social Work. Both services respond appropriately but are often limited in the detailed and consistent advice they can give.
In December 2022, COSLA Community Wellbeing Board agreed to action an annual NRPF data return for local authorities to complete. Aberdeenshire Council had no mechanism for recording NRPF presentations across services, so with no systematic data available, completion of the survey was challenging. In response to the NRPF data deficit, short term budget was identified from Tackling Poverties and Inequalities to assist Aberdeenshire Council to move to a more informed and NRPF data led position. A proposal was developed for the appointment of an NRPF Development Officer whose role would include mapping historical and existing NRPF presentations across services, liaising with the No Recourse North East Partnership and relevant partners, developing an NRPF Operational Framework for Aberdeenshire, identifying training needs and creating a mechanism for recording NRPF data. The project outcomes identified for Aberdeenshire Council included: the ability to evidence NRPF impacts across services, having data on NRPF presentations, being able to respond confidently to NRPF presentations in a coordinated and informed way, and within the context of the Ending Destitution Strategy, and contributing to the wider outcomes of the No Recourse North East Partnership.
The project has now been approved and recruitment for a NRPF Project Worker is underway. Funding for Grampian Regional Equality Council (GREC) has also been approved to ensure the project is embedded in the work of the No Recourse North East Partnership.
Glasgow City Council
Glasgow City HSCP has been providing support to families and single adults with No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) for a number of years. In 2018, the HSCP published internal guidance to support frontline practitioners to provide support to households with NRPF, which is in process of being updated.
The number of households supported in Glasgow has increased significantly in the last three years. This is in part due to the complex legislative landscape post-Brexit, with the restriction of rights and entitlements of people with insecure immigration status leading to increased support provided to EEA citizens and also the accommodation of individuals using public health legislation during the Covid-19 Public Health emergency. As a city offering sanctuary to asylum seekers and refugees for decades and since becoming an asylum dispersal city in 1999, Glasgow has traditionally had higher levels than other Scottish Local Authorities of presentations of families with NRPF who are not currently receiving Home Office support for various reasons and there is continued support provided to these families.
As experience supporting households with NRPF has developed, Glasgow City HSCP has looked at ways to improve the support provided to families and ensure consistency in approach across the city. The HSCP’s new single point of access has allowed for improved practice in this regard. Glasgow City HSCP launched a new service, Health and Social Care Connect, in November 2022. This multi-disciplinary service is a single point of access for HSCP services for a number of care groups including Adults and Older People’s Services, Children and Families, Homelessness, Occupational Therapy Services and Alcohol and Drug harm reduction.
All initial assessments for families who present requiring accommodation who may have NRPF are carried out by Health and Social Care Connect jointly by Homelessness and Children and Families staff, assessing needs, risk and human rights to ensure the best and most appropriate outcomes for families and individuals presenting with NRPF. The co-location and joint working between Homelessness and Children and Families Social Work teams providing support to their families at initial presentation has led to a more seamless service for families with more timely provision of support. Accommodation and financial support can be provided quickly following an initial assessment of families’ needs and eligibility. Families who are housed in Temporary Furnished Flats are provided with support workers commissioned by Glasgow’s Homelessness services who support families to regularise their immigration status and claim benefits if possible or link in with appropriate services. We also work closely with third sector and other partners to ensure service users are provided support around their immigration status and entitlements.
The Inverclyde Joint Board agreed in November 2022 to extend the use of Section 12 of the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 and Section 22 of the Children’s (Scotland) Act 1995 to a wider cohort of staff (including health visitors, family nurse partnership staff, community mental health team, district nurses, occupational therapists school nurses, homeless services as well as the Refugee and Migration team) to give them immediate access to hardship and destitution funding to address needs being faced by the residents of Inverclyde due to the cost-of-living crisis.
The legislation used to make these payments allowed immediate access to payments where there was destitution and hardship to individuals and families. Where a member of staff identified an individual/family in immediate financial difficulty and they were unable to purchase/provide vital items such as: Food, Heating/power, Appropriate clothing or any other items which, in the staff member’s professional judgement was a significant need, without the requirement for a referral to social work, they could complete the appropriate form and access immediate assistance via the following: cash, supermarket vouchers or electronic payments to mobile/email.
The scheme was open to people with No Recourse to Public Funds and members of the Refugee and Migration Team successfully applied for payments on a number of occasions.
Perth & Kinross Council
Perth & Kinross Council have established a fund which mirrors the Crisis Grant element of Scottish Welfare Fund for people with No Recourse to Public Funds, this fund allows people with NRPF to access emergency funds for a temporary period of time. This is an integral part of our Financial Insecurity Fund. We also have a multi-agency working group which comes together when required to address issues that may be affecting those with NRPF in the local community.
South Lanarkshire Council
Individuals presenting as destitute with a child in their care and subject to NRPF, will initially be referred to the HAAS team - Homeless Access & Assessment Service. The HAAS team will identify emergency accommodation when needed and assess the families housing needs. When the HAAS team receive confirmation through Home Office checks that the family are subject to NRPF status, they will close the homelessness application, pass to the local office homelessness team and make a referral to the Children and Families team. This starts the process of a social worker in Children and Families being identified to complete a Human Rights Assessment and arrange a multiagency meeting bringing together colleagues from social work, housing, health, welfare rights, education, and legal services. A request will also be sent to the Children and Families fieldwork manager to agree funding for accommodation while the family’s needs are being assessed, and longer if needed to prevent destitution. While the Human Rights assessment is being completed, the family will be offered support, guidance and signposting depending on the immediate presenting needs and then, if needed, ongoing work undertaken based on needs identified through the Human Rights Assessment.
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