Hackney council has announced that it will be bestowing a £100,000 support fund on residents who have been financially hurt by the COVID-19 crisis but who are not eligible for governmental support because of their immigration status.
This funding has been issued to specifically support those who are vulnerable, due to being cut off to financial support by the government, despite having a legal right to remain in the UK. Alongside this sum, Hackney council is also calling on the government to scrap the so-called ‘no recourse to public funds’ (NRPF) condition.
This condition is placed on some people as part of their immigration status. It essentially means that they are unable to access any form of support from the UK’s welfare system. The condition has caused several issues for people who are subject to it during the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused many to be suspended from work temporarily and permanently.
Hackney council’s fund, which was announced at the beginning of this week, comes as a partial sigh of relief for many of the borough’s residents who are affected by this condition and are subsequently struggling to support themselves and their families effectively.
The total budget is made up of grants from several sources, including the East End Citizens Advice Bureau and Family Action – both giving grants of £30,000 each. The rest of the money has been topped up by the council’s existing funds for families and children.
The money will be used to help provide emergency support, including food, utility payments, basic clothing and essentials for baby and child-care.
“The [NRPF] condition has caused several issues for people who are subject to it during the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused many to be suspended from work temporarily and permanently.”
Philip Glanville, the Mayor of Hackney, partnered with members of the cabinet to write a letter to the Home Secretary Priti Patel, in efforts to urge her and the Government to reassess the NRPF condition so that proper support can be provided to migrants and refugees during the coronavirus pandemic.
“The tole of local authorities should be to provide humanitarian assistance to anyone who needs it, no matter their immigration status of background”, the letter read.
“To be able to do this, we are urging you to scrap the ‘no recourse to public funds’ condition, or at the very least, suspend this condition during the coronavirus pandemic, to allow public services to support everyone that needs help”.
The NRPF condition has notoriously caused controversy in the past and has been criticised as a cause of destitution in families, young people, and children by charities, lawyers, politicians, and policymakers in the run-up to the coronavirus pandemic. Now, the need to have it reassessed is even more imperative, with the mass-closure of businesses and the job suspensions and losses this has caused meaning more households are on the poverty line than ever before.
[Image credit: Hackney council]