Claudia Webbe, Member of Parliament for Leicester East, has today written to Priti Patel, Secretary of State for Home Affairs, urging the government, as the UK faces the greatest ever recession, to end the No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) immigration status.
The letter (attached) draws attention to the fact that recent Home Office statistics show that the number of migrants with NRPF applying for destitution funds dramatically increased by 572% during the coronavirus crisis.
The statistics also revealed that it took the Home Office an average of 30 days to decide on these applications, for which the requirement is destitution, imminent risk of destitution, or where there are particularly compelling reasons relating to the welfare of a child. In order to speed up the process and enable families to access emergency support, Claudia Webbe MP urged the Home Office to commit to making these NRPF change of financial condition decisions within 24 hours.
Following a recent intervention from the Office for Statistics Regulation, Claudia Webbe MP also urged the Home Office to begin recording the number of UK residents with NRPF. This is essential to ensure that all residents, regardless of their immigration status, are protected during this unprecedented economic and public health crisis.
The letter also highlighted the fact that the government’s Coronavirus furlough and self-employment schemes are inaccessible to those with NRPF who are often on informal or zero hour contracts, and that these schemes do not provide any support to those who have seen their contracts terminated or hours reduced. In addition, many will already have been in debt before the crisis, due to the exorbitant visa renewal fees and surcharges that must be paid every two and a half years.
Claudia Webbe MP said:
“Thousands of UK residents with No Recourse to Public Funds have already been driven into destitution during the Coronavirus crisis.
“The government claims to be ‘protecting public funds’ by preventing vulnerable migrants from accessing basic benefits. Yet they do not exhibit this same frugality when handing out wasteful, multi-million contracts to private companies, or enabling multi-billionaires and corporations to evade tax.
“As we embark on the deepest recession since records began it is crucial that all residents, regardless of their immigration status, must be able to afford to stay safe during this pandemic. Otherwise we risk creating a forgotten underclass of vulnerable migrants.
“Leicester is home to many workers with NRPF, for whom it is impossible to survive without attending work – often in unsafe conditions.
“It is impossible for impoverished people to comply with guidance on self-isolation and social distancing. It is therefore not just morally imperative, but in the best public health interest of everyone in our country that people’s basic needs are met.
“The government must ensure that all migrants have automatic access to resources without fear of detention or deportation by abolishing the NRPF provision.”