At least 1,500 households with no-one to turn to but the council

  • By Jim Ranger

Boroughs are reporting an increasing number of clients who cannot access benefits, leaving them extremely vulnerable. One London borough saw a rise in this group from four reported cases in 2008 to 142 in 2013.

Individuals and families in this position are classed as having ‘No recourse to public funds’ (Nrpf), which refers specifically to people subject to immigration controls.

Boroughs have a duty to undertake an assessment of their needs under current legislation. This group has few alternatives but can be eligible for assistance from the council.

Based on a sample of 17 boroughs there are currently over 1,500 confirmed households in this position receiving some type of support directly from London boroughs. An overall figure is not currently available but some boroughs report spending over £5 million annually on clients with ‘no recourse to public funds’.

Mayor Jules Pipe, Chair of London Councils, said:

“A range of national and international factors are driving this demand, but it’s the local taxpayer picking up the bill, another example of cost-shunting from central to local government.

“The government must be absolutely clear how it expects boroughs to respond to this growing problem, and where the money is going to come from to fund the vital assistance being provided by local authorities. We will be working to challenge and influence current Home Office policies and practices.”

Public funds cover a range of benefits, including income support, housing benefit, disability living allowance and working tax credit. Boroughs’ housing and homelessness assistance also falls under the definition.

London Council’s Executive agreed to develop a database that provides a clearer view of the cost to London local government from Nrpf clients. View the full report here.