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Migrants blocked from benefits are four times more likely to be behind on bills, study finds

MIGRANTS subjected to a “deeply harmful” policy that bars them from accessing benefits are four times more likely to be behind on bills, a landmark study has revealed. 

Nearly 1.4 million people in Britain are affected by the No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) condition, which restricts access to welfare benefits, housing and domestic abuse refuges. 

A study by Citizen’s Advice published today, which shares the first representative polling of people with NRPF, lays bare the shocking hardship faced by this group as a result of being locked out of the welfare state. 

Of those polled, 81 per cent said they were behind on at least one essential bill — four times that of the general population. 

Almost half  — 48 per cent — report living in overcrowded accommodation and one in five have experienced homelessness or housing insecurity.

The study also showed that 84 per cent of people with NRPF are in work or study, and almost half have lived in Britain for more than five years, while almost a quarter of a million are key workers.

Citizens Advice chief executive Dame Clare Moriarty said that despite all the contributions made by people with NRPF, they are “locked out from support when they need it most.”

The charity is calling for the government to remove the condition for those who are habitually resident in Britain. 

One of those affected by NRPF is nurse and mother Ada, who says she now lives from “pay cheque to pay cheque” after leaving her abusive husband last year. 

“It took me a lot to walk away from my marriage but I had to think about my children,” she said. “They were suffering. I knew it would be tough as I’d have no access to financial support. At one point I was nearly homeless.

“To feel there was no support out there, it was awful. I’m now just so exhausted.”

The report also shows that many are also struggling to recover from the Covid-19 crisis, with 79 per cent reporting that they are earning less now than before the pandemic. 

Citizens Advice adviser Amanda Gibson, who works with those with NRPF, said: “Since the pandemic hit, we’ve seen more people who’ve lost their jobs and are now facing a situation they never imagined they would. 

“The NRPF policy is another hammer-blow to anyone who’s subject to the restriction. It limits so many people’s life chances.”

Dame Clare added: “With a cost of living crisis looming, people with NRPF face a precipice with no safety net. It is time for the government to look again at this unfair and deeply harmful policy.”

Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants interim chief executive Minnie Rahman said: "Regardless of our background, race, or where we were born, we all deserve a safety net to fall back on in times of need.

"But as this data highlights, over 1 million people in the UK are denied this vital support, with thousands driven into unsafe work and destitution as a result.

"Now, as fuel bills rise and temperatures plummet we will see more families pushed to crisis point unless government takes urgent action and scraps cruel NRPF rules."

The Home Office was approached for comment. 

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