Latest Public Sector News

06.03.15

Households with no-one to turn to costing London boroughs over £25m

More than 1,500 households in the capital with no recourse to public funds (NRPF) are receiving some form of support from London boroughs at an annual cost of over £25m, new figures have revealed. 

NRPF refers to people who are subject to immigration control and have no entitlement to public funds. 

However, under current legislation boroughs have a duty to undertake an assessment of their needs, especially as the NRPF group has few alternatives but can be eligible for assistance from the council. 

Public funds cover a range of financial support payments, including housing benefit, disability living allowance and working tax credit. But services not considered public funds for immigration purposes include social services care and support, compulsory school age state education, student grants or loans, NHS treatment and certain work-related welfare benefits (e.g. incapacity benefit). 

Based on a sample of 17 boroughs, London Councils revealed that the number of people with NRPF is growing rapidly and placing increasing service and financial pressure on local authorities. 

This is a particularly acute issue in London and has been caused by a range of factors including case law, government policy and broader socio-economic conditions. 

London Councils, which represents the capital’s 32 borough councils, said it was clear that the number of reported cases of clients with NRPF is increasing. For example, one borough has seen a rise from four reported cases in 2008 to 142 cases in 2013. 

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.” 

There is no single data source which provides a comprehensive national view of local government expenditure (or activity) on NRPF clients. London Councils’ analysis has been undertaken through the NRPF Connect database. 

NRPF Connect is a database through which the Home Office and local authorities work together to identify and resolve supported cases through the secure exchange of information. 

The Home Office has confirmed that this is its preferred method of working. However, London Councils’ executive has agreed to develop a database that provides a clearer view of the cost to London local government from NRPF clients. 

The17 London boroughs sampled by London Councils were Barking, Bexley, Brent, Croydon, Enfield, Greenwich, Hackney, Haringey, Havering, Hounslow, Islington, Lambeth, Merton, Newham, Redbridge, Southwark and Wandsworth. 

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