The impact of the NRPF condition on children and their wellbeing
On Thursday 9th December, the APPG on Migration held an event on the impact of the no recourse to public funds condition on children, which leads to thousands of families being unable to access financial support despite living and often working in the UK. A focus on children’s wellbeing is particularly urgent in the context of the spiralling cost of living, rising inflation and increasing energy bills this winter.
The APPG event, chaired by Baroness Philippa Stroud, demonstrated the different ways through which the No Recourse to Public Funds condition causes significant hardship to families and children across the country, offering several solution-oriented recommendations for improving policy. For a full recording of the event please see below or click here and continue reading for a summary of the event.
The event included a range of perspectives from different panellists, including MPs and representatives of children’s charities and think tanks.
Stephen Timms MP, Chair of Work and Pensions Select Committee, spoke about the hardship faced by his constituents with NRPF on a ten-year route to settlement during the pandemic, highlighting the importance of extending the provision of free school meals to children with NRPF. His remarks stressed the difficulties of paying exorbitant immigration fees for families that are financially struggling. He also talked about the evidence collected by the Work and Pensions Select Committee’s inquiries on children in poverty, which detail the severe challenges faced by families with NRPF who live and work in the UK.
Marley Morris, Associate Director for Migration, Trade and Communities, at the Institute for Public Policy Research, presented the available evidence on the numbers of children living with the NRPF condition, pointing out that existing data underestimates the totality of the children affected. Drawing on a recent IPPR report, he spoke of the impacts of NRPF on children’s education, health, and destitution, which have been particularly heightened in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. He recommended expanding support for local authorities with a high number of residents with NRPF.
Martin Lennon, Head of Public Affairs at Children’s Commissioner’s Office, spoke about the Children’s Commissioner learning on poverty in England from the Big Ask, emphasising the importance of a rights-based approach to support vulnerable children in families with no recourse to public funds, and the safeguards provided by the Children Act, particularly focusing on section 17.
Marieke Widmann, Policy and Practice Adviser at The Children’s Society, shared her reflections on the impact of NRPF on children and families, based on the casework from the Children’s Society. She noted that most of the families they support are single mothers employed in key service delivery and care jobs, and that the children affected are often British citizens impacted by the immigration status of their parents. She discussed the impact of NRPF on children in terms of development, education, insecure housing and exploitation, calling to remove the NRPF condition for families with dependent children under 18.
The Q&A focussed on the likely impact of the Nationality and Borders Bill on children living in poverty, highlighting the risks of the Bill increasing the numbers of those affected by NRPF, impacting an already very vulnerable group of people who have been persecuted and displaced, and further stretching local authority capacity.
This discussion also focused on a series of recommendations to improve current policies, which included:
- Making permanent the access to free school meals granted during the pandemic to children affected by NRPF
- Reducing the duration of the NRPF condition to a maximum of three years
- Increasing the focus on discretionary payments made by local authorities to families with NRPF
- Reviewing the entitlement to child benefits for children with British nationality
- Scrutinising issues around equality when people are doing the same job but receive different benefits because of the NRPF condition.