Data highlights crucial role of councils in preventing destitution
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COSLA has published No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) local authority data highlighting the crucial role of local government in preventing destitution.

As co-owners of the Ending Destitution Together Strategy with Scottish Government, COSLA and Scottish Local Government are committed to supporting people across Scotland who are at increased risk of destitution due to No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) conditions.

In meeting the ambitions in the strategy, COSLA issued an annual survey for local authorities to better understand the scale and complexity of No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) issues in Scotland.

This survey was designed in partnership with the Centre for Migration, Policy, and Society (COMPAS) at the University of Oxford. The data cited here will also be used by COMPAS to inform their ‘Understanding Migrant Destitution’ research project (funded by abrdn Financial Fairness Trust) on social care provision across the UK for vulnerable people with no recourse to public funds.

The full publication can be accessed here and relates to case referrals and support provided to people with NRPF in 2020/21 and 2021/22.

  • In 2021-22 councils spent at least £5.9m supporting over 800 NRPF cases under statutory duties.
  • This constituted a 40% increase in the number of cases supported and a 48% increase in the number of referrals received by councils in 2020-21.
  • The majority of referrals and support provided in both years fell under the Children Scotland Act followed by support provided under the Public Health Act.
  • Breakdown of referrals by immigration type indicated the highest level of referrals from those with leave to enter or remain with NRPF, followed by EEA nationals. Across both categories there was a significant year on year increase in the number of applications between 2020/21 and 2021/22: a 92.8% increase for those with NRPF conditions and a 138% increase for EEA nationals.

COSLA Community Wellbeing Spokesperson, Councillor Maureen Chalmers, commented following the publication:

“As Local Government we’re committed to tackling destitution and supporting the most vulnerable in our communities. This has never been more important than now, as councils are faced with an increase in NRPF presentations. These cases are often complex and funded from core council budgets.

"The evidence provided through the survey provides a valuable overview and insight on local authority work to support those affected by NRPF conditions. There is a clear link between broader policy changes such as Brexit and the rise in the number of EEA nationals approaching councils for support.

"There is now a need to monitor this data over the coming years and continue advocating with Scottish and UK government on resourcing to support councils and our communities to mitigate destitution and associated harms. COSLA will be using this data to better understand the impact of planned policy changes such as the Illegal Migration Bill on vulnerable households and local services.”

Further information

No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) is a condition applied to people who are subject to immigration control under UK immigration law. It restricts access to certain public services and benefits. Public funds are defined in the UK immigration rules.

Further information for local authorities on the support and assistance they are required to provide can be found here.