No recourse to public funds: no safety net?

If you have are granted limited leave to enter or remain in the UK, this will usually come with a condition that you have no recourse to public funds (“NRPF”). If you claim public funds that you are not entitled to, this could result in criminal prosecution, and affect future immigration applications.

**A legal challenge to the NRPF condition during the coronavirus pandemic is due to be heard in the High Court on 6 May 2020** (Link to web page of Deighton Pierce Glynn)

What are public funds?

The following benefits are listed in the Immigration Rules and defined as “public funds”:

  • attendance allowance
  • carers allowance
  • child benefit
  • child tax credit
  • council tax benefit
  • council tax reduction
  • disability living allowance
  • (from 6 April 2016) discretionary support payments by local authorities or devolved administrations in Scotland and Northern Ireland which replace the discretionary social fund
  • housing and homelessness assistance
  • housing benefit
  • income-based jobseeker’s allowance
  • income related employment & support allowance – ESA (IR)
  • income support
  • personal independence payment
  • severe disablement allowance
  • social fund payment
  • state pension credit
  • universal credit
  • working tax credit

This mirrors the list set out at section 115 of the Immigration Act 1999,

Note that some benefits are not included in this list. Even if you have an NRPF condition, you might still be eligible to claim some benefits such as:

  • contribution-based jobseeker’s allowance
  • incapacity benefit
  • retirement pension
  • widow’s benefit and bereavement benefit
  • guardian’s allowance
  • statutory maternity pay

You should take specialist advice about your eligbility for specific benefits.

Who can claim public funds?

 The British or settled partner of a person with NRPF can still claim any benefits they would normally be entitled to, with the proviso that they cannot usually claim any additional funds for any family member subject to the NRPF condition.

If you have been granted leave to remain (“Pre-Settled Status”) or indefinite leave to remain (“Settled Status”) under the EU Settlement Scheme, then you are allowed to claim public funds.

If you are granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK, then there is no condition restricting access to public funds (except in the initial 5-year period for Adult Dependent Relatives).

Limited leave to enter or remain in the UK in other categories is usually granted subject to the NRPF condition, but some parts of the Immigration Rules make the condition discretionary.

If you are applying for limited leave to remain on the basis of your human rights (for example, under the private life and long residence provisions of paragraph 276B, or the family life provisions of Appendix FM) you should check whether you can provide evidence to support a claim for public funds as part of your application.

Different rules apply to:

  • EEA nationals relying on the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016, at least until the end of the post-Brexit “transition period” on 31 December 2020
  • Nationals of Algeria, FYR Macedonia, Morocco, San Marino, Tunisia and Turkey, subject to the terms of agreements between those countries and the UK

It is worth noting that the Home Office also has discretion to grant indefinite leave to remain in some circumstances, when a person has applied for limited leave.

When can you apply to have the condition removed?

You can apply to have the NRPF condition removed (or not applied when you are granted leave to remain) if you can show that:

  • You are “destitute” or there is satisfactory evidence that you would be rendered destitute without recourse to public funds
  • There are particularly compelling reasons relating to the welfare of a child on account of the child’s parent’s very low income
  • You have established exceptional circumstances in your case relating to your financial circumstances which, in the Home Office’s view, require the no recourse to public funds condition code not to be imposed or to be lifted

“Destitution” is defined in Home Office guidance as meaning that you do not have adequate accommodation or any means of obtaining it (whether or not their other essential living needs are met), or you have adequate accommodation or the means of obtaining it, but cannot meet your other essential living needs.

You can provide evidence when you make your application for leave to remain, or you can apply online if your circumstances change during your period of leave.

You will need detailed evidence about your finances and circumstances. As a general rule you should provide:

  • Statements for all your bank accounts for the last 6 months, and for anyone who provides you with financial support
  • Evidence of your outgoings such as tenancy agreement, recent bills
  • Evidence of the change in your circumstances (for example, a redundancy letter, eviction notice etc.)
  • Evidence of anyone who depends on you for support such as children or other relatives

It is a good idea to provide a summary of your normal monthly income and expenditure, and to provide notes to go with your bank statements. The Home Office will usually ask for details of any income and expenditure shown on your bank statements, if this is not obvious from the transaction details.

What is the effect of having the condition lifted?

If you are granted access to public funds, you still need to apply for benefits that you are eligible for. There could still be a delay before you receive any funds that you are eligible for.

Being granted access to public funds could also affect how you calculate when you are eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain.

For example, if you are on the “5-year route” under Appendix FM, being granted access to public funds will put you onto the “10-year route”. Even if you later stop claiming public funds, the time counting towards ILR on that basis will be re-set to the date when you are next granted leave in the 5-year route. In many cases, this will mean that you will need to wait until you have accrued 10 years of leave in the UK before you apply for ILR (either under the ruled for long residence, or under the 10-year route of Appendix FM).

Victims of domestic abuse

If you have leave to remain in the UK as a partner, and your relationship ends because of domestic abuse, then you might be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain on that basis.

There is a specific concession to allow applicants on this route to apply in advance for access to public funds while their application is being processed:

However, these provisions only apply in very limited circumstances, if you have leave as the partner of a British or settled person under Appendix FM, and your relationship has broken down because of domestic abuse.

It is important to note that an application for indefinite leave on this route is not usually treated by the Home Office as a “human rights” application with a full right of appeal. You will need to give clear reasons why your application is on human rights grounds, and why you should be allowed to appeal if your application is refused.

The route also does not assist people who have leave on routes other than Appendix FM (for example, Points-Based System dependents).

Other sources of support

If you need financial help you might also be eligible for help from your local authority or charities.

If you are a sole carer for British children, your local authority might have obligations to support them under the Children Act 1989. The support that local authorities offer varies, and in some cases you might be told that your children can only be supported if they are taken into care. You should take specialist advice about your circumstances (see resources below).

Local and national charities may provide emergency support depending on your specific circumstances.


Home Office guidance:

Charities and other organisations:

If you need advice about NRPF conditions, or applying to have conditions lifted, please contact me

Kitty Falls

Tel: 07752722292

Last updated 18 April 2020


Image by Kurt Bouda from Pixabay


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