The impact of Clause 10.5 of the Nationality and Borders Bill on Refugees
While the Nationality and Borders Bill is undergoing its last week of Committee stage in Parliament, on Wednesday November 3rd 2021, the APPG on Migration, in collaboration with the APPG on NRPF, hosted an event on the potentially damaging consequences of Clause 10.5 of the Bill on refugees and their welfare (now Clause 11.5). The event focused on the differential treatment of refugees and the extension of NRPF condition. For a full recording of the event please see below or click here.
Clause 10.5 distinguishes between different groups of refugees according to their mode of arrival to the UK, and grants them limited services and length of protection on this basis. Limitations to refugee support include limiting rights of family reunion, introducing a time-limited leave, restricting access to indefinite leave and extending the NRPF condition. These measures apply to refugees who did not come to the UK directly from a country or territory where their life or freedom was threatened.
Co-chaired by Kate Osamor MP (Chair of APPG on NRPF) and Baroness Ludford (Vice-Chair of APPG on Migration), the event brought together policy experts and people with direct experiences of living under the NRPF condition.
Among policy panellists, the British Red Cross’s Policy and Advocacy Manager, Jonathan Featonby, addressed the key legal, moral and practical concerns held by organisations in the sector about the government’s proposals of differentiating between different refugees in the Bill. He also set out the negative implications of limiting family re-unification rights for group 2 of refugees, as family reunification constitutes the most commonly used safe route to access the UK.
Jennifer Blair, a barrister and senior legal protection adviser at the Helen Bamber Foundation, an organisation that provides support to survivors of trafficking, torture and inhuman treatment, spoke about the destabilising and potentially re-traumatising implications of offering a limited leave to remain – with a repeated review process every 30 months – for refugees’ mental health and well being, especially for those who have been trafficked or tortured.
Based on her experience at Project 17 helping families with NRPF to access services from local authorities, Policy Coordinator at Project 17, Kris Harris, spoke of the negative impact of the NRPF on vulnerable individuals, highlighting that the condition contributes to homelessness, destitution, social exclusion, mental health problems and child poverty. She maintained that the Home Office’s suggestion that refugees could apply to have the NRPF condition lifted may not be sufficient, as individuals lack knowledge of the system and the application creates a further bureaucratic hurdle for people who are already struggling.
We then heard two powerful testimonies of the numerous challenges of living under the No Recourse to Public Funds Conditions shared by two young mothers in the process of seeking asylum and indefinite leave to remain. They highlighted their difficulties in accessing accommodation and support from local councils, and the overall stress that having No Recourse to Public Funds put on their mental health, hampering their determination to move on with their lives.
Overall, the event aimed to enhance understanding of the potentially damaging consequences of proposed plans around Clause 10.5 (now Clause 11.5) to inform parliamentarians in the next phases of scrutinising legislation.