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Know your rights guide

Social Services

Find out about your rights to access public funds if you're in need.

What is new?

Some changes were made to the law in 2016 but the Home Office has not explained how these changes would work and when they will happen. For now, this means nothing has changed in practice.

One exception, especially in London, is that many local authorities now have Immigration Officers working in their offices. They may ask you to meet with them
if you ask the local authority for support. If you refused to meet with the local authority Immigration Enforcement Officer, this may be used against your application.

Below we explain how the rules work at the moment.

What is ‘No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF)?

‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ is an immigration restriction applied to many thousands of people living in the UK, which prevents them from accessing welfare benefits and supports, such as Universal Credit.

The restriction applies to people from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) who:

  • Need leave to remain in the UK, but do not have it. This includes people who are undocumented or have overstayed their visas.
  • Have leave to remain, but have NRPF stamped on their Biometric Residence Permit.
  • Have leave to remain on a maintenance undertaking, which means that when you applied, someone agreed to pay for your expenses and accommodation. They are called a sponsor.
  • Are waiting for the outcome of an appeal.

When is help available for families with no recourse to public funds?

The law says that local councils must protect the welfare of ‘children in need’ in their area. Your child will almost certainly be ‘in need’ if:

  • Your family is homeless or
  • Your family does not have enough money to meet basic needs (for example, food and clothing)

Your local council may have a duty to provide your family with accommodation and/or financial support.

Local authorities cannot advise your family to return to your country of origin if there is a legal or practical barrier to your return (e.g. your family is waiting for the Home Office to make a decision on an application for leave to remain). You should seek legal advice and help before making an application if you can.

When is help available for individuals with no recourse to public funds?

If you are homeless and destitute and:

  • You are disabled, elderly or suffering
  • Your family does not have enough money to meet basic needs (for example, food and clothing)

You may be able to get limited help with housing and financial support from your local council. The law on this is complex and you should seek legal advice and help before making an application if you can.