Hackney Council has called on home secretary Priti Patel to scrap the ‘no recourse to public funds’ (NRPF) condition that blocks access to welfare support as a result of immigration status, accusing the government of failing to provide help to migrants and refugees during the pandemic.
The Town Hall has announced an emergency fund of £100,000 to support residents who are unable to work as well as being unable to access the welfare system because of their immigration status.
Two grants of £30,000 will be awarded to charities Family Action and East End Citizens Advice Bureau, with the remaining money topping up existing council subsistence funds for families with children who are entitled to support.
Director of policy and research at the Children’s Society Sam Royston said: “We are delighted that Hackney Council is getting behind The Children’s Society campaign to suspend NRPF restrictions.
“During this current crisis there are thousands of children in the UK who are facing extreme poverty because these strict immigration rules prevent their families from accessing vital support like Universal Credit, tax credits, child and housing benefits.
“The government must step in and provide an urgent lifeline for all, so that children and families from all backgrounds, regardless of immigration status, can access the help they desperately need at this time of national emergency.”
The money will be used to provide emergency help with food, reconnection of fuel supply and cost of utilities, help with travel, toiletries, basic or essential communication needs, rent arrears, basic clothing, child or baby essentials, prescriptions or rent deposits.
In a letter to home secretary Priti Patel, Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville and three members of his cabinet accuse the government of a failure to explain how local authorities can support migrants while NRPF policy is in effect, with immigration enforcement or voluntary return schemes, which some must agree to before becoming eligible for support, also currently impossible.
Glanville and Cllrs Anntoinette Bramble, Rebecca Rennison and Caroline Selman said: “While the coronavirus does not discriminate in its infection of people, the impacts of the crisis, and the response from governments, do.
“The current crisis is highlighting the deep inequalities that the government’s immigration policies create for migrants that councils like Hackney and migrant advocacy organisations have been raising since they were introduced.
“The NRPF policy is plunging families and individuals into an unexpected financial crisis as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, with no safety net to prevent these families becoming destitute other than the support provided by councils like Hackney.”
More information on how you can access financial support during the crisis can be found at hackney.gov.uk/coronavirus-financial-support
For more on the East End Citizens Advice Bureau, visit eastendcab.org.uk
More information on Family Action is available at family-action.org.uk