Coronavirus: East Ham MP questions Boris Johnson on No Recourse to Public Funds policy
PUBLISHED: 13:00 28 May 2020
The MP for East Ham, Stephen Timms, yesterday (May 27) questioned prime minister Boris Johnson on the no recourse to public funds (NRPF) policy.
Mr Timms posed the question at the latest liaison committee meeting, where the prime minister did not appear to be familiar with the visa condition, which prevents certain legally-residing migrants from being eligible for state benefits.
In discussing the issue, Mr Timms gave an example of a struggling couple with two children in his constituency.
Though they both work, the wife is currently the sole earner as the husband has lost all income due to not being furloughed: “They have leave to remain in the UK but no recourse to public funds, so they can’t get any help at all.
“Isn’t it wrong that a hard-working, law-abiding family like that is being forced by the current arrangements into destitution?”
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Mr Johnson initially responded by asking why the pair are not eligible for universal credit or employment support allowance, indicating that he was unaware of the restrictions imposed by NRPF.
Mr Timms explained: “It’s a condition attached to their leave to remain. They’ve been here for years, their children have been born in the UK, but because, for a 10-year period, they have this no recourse to public funds, at the moment they can get no help at all.”
Mr Johnson promised to “come back” to Mr Timms on the issue, saying those who “have worked hard for this country” deserve “support of one kind or another” during this coronavirus pandemic.
The home office has yet to reveal how many people are affected by NRPF, though a recent report by the Children’s Society — drawing from the University of Oxford’s Migration Observatory — estimates the number to be more than one millon people, including 100,000 children.
Many of these live in Newham, reflected by the fact that there has been a 300 per cent increase in support requests made to the council during this period.
Mr Timms called for the suspension of NRPF as recently as May 14, following a High Court case which ruled the practice unlawful.
A full judgment, set to detail the implications moving forward, is still to be released.
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