To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what plans the Government has to suspend the No Recourse to Public Funds conditions on public health grounds for the duration of the covid-19 outbreak, as recommended by the Work and Pensions Select Committee in its first report of Session 2019-21, DWP’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, published 22 June 2020.
The Government remains committed to protecting vulnerable people and has acted decisively to ensure that we support everyone through this pandemic.
Healthcare is not classified as a public fund, and testing and treatment for COVID-19 is free of charge to all regardless of immigration status. Also, NHS Trusts have been advised that no immigration checks are required for these patients. The guidance can be viewed here:https://www.gov.uk/guidance/nhs-entitlements-migrant-health-guide.
Many of the wide-ranging COVID-19 measures the Government has put in place are available to migrants with NRPF. These range from assistance being given under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self-employed Income Support Scheme, statutory sick pay and discretionary hardship payments for those who have to self-isolate.
Migrants who have been granted leave on the basis of their family life / human rights can apply to have the NRPF condition on their stay lifted by making a ‘change of conditions’ application.
Since the onset of the pandemic, we have continued to prioritise NRPF ‘change of conditions’ applications and deal with them compassionately. Data published in February 2021 for quarter 4 of 2020 shows the average time taken to make a decision on cases is 18 days. Of the decisions taken in the same period, 86% were granted.
Local authorities may also provide basic safety net support, regardless of immigration status, if it is established that there is a genuine care need that does not arise solely from destitution, for example, where there are community care needs, migrants with serious health problems or family cases where the wellbeing of a child is in question.
The Government has provided unprecedented support of over £8 billion of funding to local authorities in England to help councils manage the impacts of COVID-19 and respond to the spending pressures they are facing, including £4.6 billion which is not ringfenced. Additional funding of nearly £19 billion has also been provided for the devolved administrations under the Barnett formula as part of the wider government response.
In light of the support that is available to those with NRPF, we do not believe it is necessary to suspend the NRPF condition for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak.