1. Definition and Eligibility

1.1 Definition of No Recourse to Public Funds

The term no recourse to public funds (NRPF) applies to people who are subject to immigration control in the UK and who do not have any entitlement to welfare benefits or public housing.

The definition of ‘subject to immigration control’ is set out in section 115 Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 (‘exclusion from benefits’) and includes people who:

  • require leave to enter or remain in the UK but do not have it (e.g., an illegal entrant, Appeal Rights Exhausted asylum seeker or visa overstayer);
  • have leave to enter or remain in the UK which is subject to a condition that they do not have recourse to public funds (e.g., a spouse of a settled person, a Tier 4 student and their dependents or those with leave to remain as a visitor or under ‘family or private life rules’); or
  • have leave to enter or remain in the UK given as a result of a maintenance undertaking (e.g., adult dependant relatives of people with settled status).

The statement ‘no public funds’ will be written on the person’s immigration documentation, if they have immigration permission with NRPF.

People who have no recourse to public funds are not usually entitled to receive welfare benefits. They also have no entitlement to local authority housing or assistance from the local authority in relation to homelessness.

However, there are several exceptions to the rules regarding public funds, which are set out in the Home Office Guidance on Public Funds. This means that a person who has leave to remain with NRPF may be able to claim certain benefits without this affecting their immigration status when they:

  • are a national of a country that has a reciprocal arrangement with the UK;
  • have an EEA national family member, including a British citizen;
  • make a joint claim for tax credits with a partner who has recourse to public funds; or
  • have indefinite leave to enter or remain as an adult dependent relative during the first five years they are in the UK (during which time they can claim non-means tested benefits).

1.2 Recourse to Public Funds

People with the following types of immigration status will have recourse to be able to access public funds:

  • indefinite leave to enter or remain or no time limit (apart from an adult dependent relative);
  • right of abode;
  • exempt from immigration control;
  • refugee status;
  • humanitarian protection;
  • leave to remain granted under the family or private life rules where they are accepted by the Home Office as being destitute or at risk of imminent destitution;
  • discretionary leave to remain, for example:
  • leave granted to a person who has received a conclusive grounds decision that they are a victim of trafficking or modern day slavery;
  • destitution domestic violence concession;
  • unaccompanied asylum-seeking child.

See Section 1.1, Who has NPRF? Assessing and Supporting Adults who have no Recourse to Public Funds (England) for further information .

2. Asylum Seekers

When an asylum seeker or refused asylum seeker requests care and support from social care, a local authority will be able to refer such a person to the Home Office for asylum support.

In certain circumstances, destitute refused asylum seekers may be provided with support from the Home Office under section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. They need to show that they:

  • are taking all reasonable steps to leave the UK;
  • are unable to leave the UK due to physical impediment;
  • have no safe route of return;
  • have been granted leave to appeal in an application for judicial review concerning their asylum claim; or
  • require support to avoid a breach of their human rights, for example they have made further submissions for a fresh asylum claim.

The support provided comprises accommodation and subsistence, which is intended to cover the costs of food, clothing and toiletries, through a card that can be used in shops but not to withdraw cash. Subsistence support cannot be provided independently of accommodation.

The following organisations provide information and asylum support:

3. Modern Slavery

See also Modern Slavery chapter

Local authorities must consider and investigate when they suspect a person may be a victim of trafficking or modern slavery, or when a confirmed victim who has NRPF requests care and support or requires housing.

4. Human Rights Considerations

Whilst taking into account legal restrictions, local authorities cannot carry out their duties in any way that breaches a person’s human rights. In all situations, the local authority should provide support where necessary to avoid a breach of a person’s human rights. The local authority should assess the person’s needs if there would be a breach of human rights if support is not provided.

In practice this means that local authorities must undertake a human rights assessment to consider whether, or to what extent, the circumstances are such that the bar on providing support or assistance under the Care Act should be lifted in order to avoid a breach of human rights.

5. Further information

For further information see:

Assessing and Supporting Adults who have No Recourse to Public Funds (England): (NRPF Network) 

Guidance for Adult Social Care (NRPF Network)