Online Tool to Improve the Assessment of Destitute Families’ Eligibility for Support

May 2016 - May 2019
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This project is an important new venture: the development of an online tool make it easier to assess the eligibility of a destitute migrant family for support under s17 Children Act. An exercise in ‘research-to-impact’, it was inspired by a major COMPAS study completed in July 2015, Safeguarding children from destitution: Local authority responses to families with ‘no recourse to public funds’.

The study found that assessing eligibility under s17 is complex and challenging. In 2012/13, 3,391 migrant families were supported under s17 including 5,900 children, a 19% rise on the previous yea and the research found that applications were often rejected on grounds that were inconsistent with the requirements of case-law. However Local Authority staff cited lack of training and guidance as a significant challenge, while advocacy by voluntary sector agencies, despite having an important influence on the outcome of applications, was often limited, with major gaps in the availability of specialist support. COMPAS secured funding to develop an online tool to enable advisors in the voluntary sector and local authorities to assess eligibility and this was designed in 2016 with partners the NRPF Network and Soapbox and went on line in January 2017. Since its launch in 2017, the tool has been used by over 25,000 unique users, 68% of whom described themselves as being at immediate risk of homelessness. In 2017 the tool won a Community Integration Award.

The tool can be accessed here:

Find out more about the project from the Community Integration Awards video

Principal Investigator

Sarah Spencer

Jacqui Broadhead


Catherine Houlcroft, NRPF Network


Legal Education Foundation