Ending destitution together: strategy

A strategy to improve support for people with No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) living in Scotland.


“Glasgow is so warm, but destitution is cold. It hits people immediately. They are robbed of everything, can’t live and don’t know where to get help.”

This strategy is focused on improving support for people with NRPF who are not permitted, under immigration rules, to access the full range of support and benefits that have been developed to help most people living in Scotland at times of need. This includes most mainstream welfare benefits, local authority housing and homelessness services.

In line with the purpose of the National Performance Framework,[5] the strategy contributes to the national outcomes, including those on communities and poverty:

  • We live in communities that are inclusive, empowered, resilient and safe.
  • We tackle poverty by sharing opportunities, wealth and power more equally.

The strategy contributes to continuing work to support anyone in Scotland who is at risk or experiencing poverty. It aligns with the Scottish Government’s multi-dimensional approach to tackling poverty, which recognises that the causes and symptoms of poverty are wide-ranging and understands that people in poverty have different experiences and cannot all be supported in the same way. It is also designed to extend existing efforts to tackle poverty and inequality and support everyone living in Scotland, as far as that is possible to do. This contributes to the range of work which aims to make Scotland fairer for everyone, supports integration which builds stronger and more resilient communities, and ensures that safeguarding approaches are in place to protect people at risk of exploitation or abuse.

Scope of the Strategy

This strategy focuses on what can be done in the devolved context to improve support for people subject to NRPF who are living in communities across Scotland.

NRPF forms part of immigration legislation and rules which are reserved to the UK Parliament. The Scottish Government, COSLA and local authorities cannot lift or amend NRPF conditions.

What is destitution?

A person is destitute if they do not have adequate accommodation, or means of obtaining it, whether or not their essential living needs are met. Or, where they have adequate accommodation, or means of obtaining it, but can’t meet other essential living needs.[6]

Destitution is absolute poverty, where people cannot afford essentials they need to be safe, warm and fed. It has a severe impact on health and wellbeing.

There are, however, a range of policies, services and support that are the responsibility of national and local government in Scotland, which are accessible and can potentially make significant improvements for people with NRPF.

The strategy aims to strengthen and implement options that are available to people with NRPF and better meet their needs in the devolved context. This includes children’s services, adult social care, access to health and support provided by the third sector and local communities.

The public sector equality duty already requires public bodies to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination across all protected characteristics and advance equality of opportunity, as well as foster good relations between different people when carrying out its functions. This strategy will raise awareness and understanding of the impact NRPF can have, enabling public bodies to recognise where this can increase existing disadvantages when carrying out their functions.

The strategy aligns with and seeks to strengthen support for adults and children at risk of harm who have the right to be safe and protected. Processes and services are already in place to ensure that support is provided to those in need. For example, Getting It Right For Every Child[7] provides a shared holistic approach to wellbeing, aligned to UNCRC, and includes an assessment of wellbeing, to consider the needs of a child and their family, and make plans for support.

The strategy also commits to further engagement with the UK Government on NRPF policy and the impact it has on people living in Scotland.

What is NRPF?

No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) is a condition applied to people who are ‘subject to immigration control’ under UK immigration law.[8]

NRPF restricts access to certain public services and benefits. Public funds are defined in the UK immigration rules.[9]

NRPF can apply to anyone:

  • who is in the UK on a visa;
  • who has applied for asylum or another form of protection in the UK;
  • who is an adult dependent relative of a British citizen or person with settled status in the UK; or
  • who does not have permission to remain in the UK.

NRPF may, for example, be lifted when someone is given discretionary leave to remain in the UK as a refugee, humanitarian protection or because they have received a conclusive grounds decision that they are a victim of human trafficking. It may also be lifted temporarily under the destitution domestic violence concession (DDV) and Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Child (UASC) leave also permits temporary access to public funds.

NRPF continues to apply to people who have temporary permission to be in the UK, including as part of a route to settlement or on discretionary protection grounds (which do not amount to refugee status).


Email: ScotlandsRefugeeStrategy@gov.scot

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