What is ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’?

‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ (NRPF) means that someone doesn’t have the right to access ‘public funds’ because of their immigration status. Public funds include housing benefit, Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), tax credits, income support and local authority housing.

People with no recourse to public funds include, for example, those have overstayed a visa, people on a spouse visa or student visa, those who entered the UK illegally, refused asylum seekers and those who have been given leave to remain in the UK with an NRPF condition. Some EEA nationals may also not be entitled to benefits.

Some people with ‘no recourse to public funds’ can be at risk of homelessness and destitution.

What is ‘Section 17’?

Section 17 the Children Act 1989 requires local authorities to ensure the welfare of children in their area who are ‘in need.’  ‘In need’ usually means that a child’s family doesn’t have adequate accommodation or the income to pay for food and other essentials. Section 17 support is provided by social services and is not a public fund so the responsibility of the local authority applies to any child, regardless of their immigration status. Section 17 support is support for the whole family, and can come in the form of housing, money and other resources.

What is ‘gatekeeping’?

‘Gatekeeping’ describes the tactics used by local authorities make it more difficult for destitute migrant families to access Section 17 support. This might include giving false or unclear information, making threats, leaving people to wait for a very long time, or refusing to give temporary accommodation.

What does NELMA mean by ‘accompanying’?

NELMA volunteers accompany people who are seeking Section 17 support from local authorities, to provide practical and emotional support. Accompaniers provide friendship and solidarity at what can be a difficult time.


(This information is for guidance only and may change – for details of how to access support and advice see our ‘Resources’ page)