Geraint Davies, Swansea West MP, was among the 97 MPs who signed a letter calling on the Prime Minister to allow those with no recourse to public funds immigration status to access Coronavirus support.
Measures have been put in place by government in order to allow people to stay at home to protect the NHS. Restricting access to support poses a serious risk of destitution and the inability to carry out government guidance.
The letter said:
We welcome the Government’s measures to ensure that those who are unemployed or whose businesses have been affected by the impact of Coronavirus will be able to keep a roof over their heads and food on their table during this difficult time.
However, we are concerned about the large number of people in the UK living here with no recourse to public funds. The government has not yet announced how vulnerable people with NRPF status will be helped through this crisis. We are writing to urge you to act immediately and provide clarity.
Our constituents across the country have written to us concerned about how they will get through this crisis without government help. While we understand that their welfare typically falls within local government remit, it is quite clear that during this unprecedented health crisis we need national government direction and guidance on the issue.
Those with leave to remain with NRPF condition cannot currently access all of the government’s measures to protect families. For example, a person who is self-employed is not currently able to claim Universal Credit if they have leave to remain with NRPF. It is also unclear whether funds provided from the Job Retention Scheme will extend to those without recourse to public funds. This could not only leave people at risk of destitution but also in a situation where following NHS guidance on self-isolation presents serious challenges and potentially far reaching, fatal consequences.
We are calling on the Government to temporarily waive the NRPF status so that this group of people can access the provisions to help those facing an adverse economic impact due to the outbreak of COVID-19. The government must provide more help and guidance to local government so that they are able to effectively help this portion of our communities.
It is clear from the Government’s strategy that we must all work together to end this crisis. No group should face increased suffering, especially because of their immigration status. This crisis will not come to an end unless we are all protected in this challenging and unprecedented time.
The reply from Chris Philip, Home Office and Justice Minister has been copied below.