Informing the Westminster Hall debate on No Recourse to Public Funds

Migration Westminster
NewsMay 16th, 2024

The Bevan Foundation’s work on No Recourse to Public Funds was referenced in a UK Parliament debate 

The  challenges faced by people subject to the No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) condition were raised in Parliament on May 14th thanks to a Westminster Hall debate tabled by Beth Winter MP.  

The MP raised concerns about the devastating effects of the No Recourse to Public Funds restriction on people living in her constituency of Cynon Valley, and acknowledged that the Foundation’s recent report on No Recourse to Public Funds informed many of the points put forward for discussion.  She echoed the Foundation’s calls for the UK Government to end visa restrictions on accessing public funds, stating: 

That is the fairest way to support people without settled status and their children, and safeguard them from deep poverty and destitution. Welfare benefits should be a safety net for all, regardless of their immigration status.

The opening statement included recommendations to extend the scope of legal aid and highlighted Bevan Foundation insights into the availability of free to access immigration advice in Wales:

firms are closing, and provision is in sharp decline. Practically all immigration legal providers in Wales are currently closed to referrals, meaning people are being denied justice.

Other areas highlighted by MPs in the debate included the need to reduce immigration application costs, improve the support provided to local authorities, and the need to exempt key benefits and schemed from public funds. The moral, financial, and social justice impacts on individuals, families, local authorities, and society in general, were emphasised.

Responding on behalf of the UK government, the Minister for Legal Migration and Border, Tom Pursgrove MP, refused to accept that the NRPF policy should be reversed, stating that it would “burden” the taxpayer. Opposition MPs questioned this rationale, arguing that providing timely support at times of crisis would reduce costs in the long-term. 

MPs Beth Winter and Liam Byrne raised concerns about the exclusion of asylum seekers from work, stating that this was contradictory to the stated intention that migrants should support themselves financially. The Minister, while stating emphatically that he did “definitely want people to come here”, cited employment as a potential ‘pull factor’ for illegal migration. This was strongly countered by an argument from Beth Winter MP, who asserted that ‘push factors’ are the principle cause of people seeking sanctuary. 

In her opening statement, Beth Winter MP  praised the Bevan Foundation’s report and the recommendations for Welsh Government and local authorities in Wales, which she stated were of “great significance”. The MP stated that these would be beneficial to UK Government, and promised to forward the report to the Minister of State for Legal Migration and the Border following the debate. 

Despite obvious disagreement on the issues, the Minister agreed to look at better joined up working with devolved governments and administrations in relation to NRPF support. He stated: 

The Government’s general principle is that it is important that we have a system that provides balance. I set out the safeguards, but I am definitely very happy to engage not only with colleagues across the UK Government but with counterparts in the devolved administration.

Following the debate, Beth Winter MP posted on X that the Minister had offered a meeting with her in the coming weeks to discuss further the issues that she raised. 

 Click here to see the Commons Library research briefing produced for this event. 


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