The no recourse to public funds (NRPF) policy is based on the principle that migrants coming to the UK are expected to maintain and support themselves and their families without posing a burden on the UK’s welfare system. However, there are existing safeguards and exceptions in place for those in need, for example refugees and those on human rights routes who would otherwise be destitute. The Government has also taken steps to support those in need, including those subject to NRPF, through the current pandemic.
The assistance being given under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self-employed Income Support Scheme are not classed as public funds and are available to all those who are legally working or self-employed respectively, including those with NRPF status and those on zero-hour contracts. Statutory sick pay and some other work-related benefits, such as contributory employment and support allowance, are also not classed as public funds and so are also available to individuals with NRPF who are eligible.
Local authorities are also able to help. The Government has provided £4.3 billion of funding to local authorities in England to respond to spending pressures they are facing, including supporting those with no recourse to public funds where there is a genuine care need that does not arise solely from destitution. Funding has also been allocated to the Devolved Administrations under the Barnett Formula.