Understanding Migrant Destitution in the UK March 2022 – February 2024

Overview

No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) is an immigration condition which prohibits access to the welfare safety net. This project will provide an evidence base on support for precarious migrants – those living in and at risk of, destitution. The project builds on our existing research focussing on children in families with NRPF, adding two additional groups – single adults and EEA nationals – reflecting the post pandemic and Brexit context. The pandemic has seen a wider visibility for NRPF issues, with the ‘everyone in’ policy of supporting single adults with NRPF with accommodation giving a wider scope to the policy area. Post Brexit changes mean that more EU nationals are likely to be affected – both those already present in the UK who do not have Settled Status and new arrivals.

We will work closely with local authorities to inform and improve policy and practice. This will include both for directly supported families, but also for the much larger group of people subject to the No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) condition whose situation is precarious and who are at risk in the medium to longer term of destitution, helping to increase understanding of the characteristics of the group and how a more proactive approach to NRPF provision can have wider impact on overall levels of poverty and destitution. As much research and advocacy in this area is focussed on influencing central government, this project will focus on how local governments operate what is essentially a parallel welfare system, how it is justified and administered, and how it could be improved.

Principal Investigator

Jacqui Broadhead, Director, Global Exchange on Migration and Diversity

Researchers

Lucy Leon, Researcher, Global Exchange on Migration and Diversity

Dr Mariña Fernández-Reino, Senior Researcher, The Migration Observatory

Funder

abrdn Financial Fairness Trust

Topics

CareCitiesFamilyPoliciesWelfare

Regions

Europe

Methods

The study uses a mixed methods approach – this will include a literature review, an online survey to all UK local authorities, qualitative research interviews with local authority officers and elected members in targeted local authorities, interviews with relevant NGOs and stakeholders as well as 4 focus groups with: 

  • Families supported by local authorities under s17 Children Act 1989
  • Single adults supported through the Care Act 2014
  • EEA nationals at risk of destitution
  • Those subject to the NRPF condition not accessing LA support 

Secondary analysis will examine the numbers and characteristics of people on visas that generally come with an NRPF condition, whether or not they are being supported by local authorities, as well as data on applications to lift the NRPF condition (‘change of conditions’).

Based on the findings of the research, knowledge exchange activity with local authorities will support them to develop their policies and practices as well as collate and understand the data they already hold, synthesising research outputs for policy making audiences.