London local government is providing a hidden welfare state and is not currently funded for this growing pressure, which is only likely to increase when the Immigration Act comes into full force in 2017. London Councils is calling on government to urgently address this funding shortfall.
No recourse to public funds (NRPF) refers to people who are subject to immigration control and have no entitlement to public funds such as welfare benefits, Housing Benefit and Home Office support for asylum seekers.
Individuals with NRPF have very few alternative avenues for support and local authorities have a duty to undertake an assessment of their needs under a combination of the Human Rights Act, the Children’s Act 1989 and the National Assistance Act 1948.
NRPF has been growing rapidly and is a particularly acute issue in London, placing increasing service and financial pressure on local authorities. The 17 London boroughs using NRPF Connect reported around 1,500 households receiving some form of accommodation and subsistence at an estimated combined cost of £25.1 million in 2014-15. Actual expenditure across those boroughs is likely to be higher, as these figures do not include staff time and overheads. A separate estimate puts the figure at £22 million per annum across just five South East London boroughs (using a different data to that used in NRPF Connect).
The Immigration Act, which is expected to come into full force in 2017 is likely to increase the burden of NRPF.
London Councils has asked that the Government urgently addresses this funding shortfall for the existing NRPF responsibilities they have and that new burdens assessments are undertaken of every new and existing policy that has impacts on NRPF.
The NRPF Network provides up-to-date briefings for local authorities, and runs the NRPF Connect database which is used by many London boroughs. The network facilitates partnership working between local authorities and the home office to resolve cases and support more efficient working practices.