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Holyrood urged to help migrants with no access to public funds

HOLYROOD must pursue every route possible within its devolved powers to mitigate the impact of no recourse to public funds (NRPF) clauses on migrants in Scotland, public-sector and charity leaders have said.

While giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s local government and communities committee today, representatives from across the third sector called on the SNP administration to co-ordinate a cross-government response to redress the harm that NRPF causes to individuals and families. 

The policy bars people with limited leave to remain in Britain from accessing certain types of publicly funded support, including universal credit, housing benefit and child benefit. 

The Scottish government regularly expresses its opposition to various aspects of the Home Office’s hostile environment for migrants, including NRPF, with human rights lawyers recommending that ministers explore policy and legal routes to express their opposition.

In a written submission, Cosla, the body representing councils in Scotland, said that more funding was needed to assist those not eligible for local authority support when public health duties cease to apply. 

Charities supporting refugees warned that a recovery from the coronavirus crisis would not be possible unless “something serious” is done about NRPF. 

Scottish Refugee Council policy manager Graham O’Neill told MSPs that the charity sector welcomed the public health approach to immigration and asylum-seeker support operating in Scotland during the pandemic. 

Mr O’Neill said that this was much needed as organisations had been working under the Home Office’s hostile environment regime, which “crushes people and leaves people in a horrendous situation.”

But, warning that some continue to fall through the gaps, he called for Holyrood to initiate its own inquiry into NRPF.

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