‘Rules should be waived for those who can’t access public funds’

SNP MP Stuart McDonald has written to the home secretary, Priti Patel.

‘Rules should be waived for those who can’t access public funds’ PA Media

The SNP has urged the home secretary to waive rules meaning some refugees cannot access government support.

In a letter to Priti Patel and communities secretary Robert Jenrick, SNP MP Stuart McDonald called for more to be done to support those with no recourse to public funds (NRPF) amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Those who are NRPF cannot claim certain benefits or receive housing from a local authority.

The condition is enforced on those who are subject to certain conditions on their stay in the UK.

While he welcomed some actions taken to help those who have NRPF, Mr McDonald said some people were being turned away from homeless support services, adding that rules should be suspended and funding sent to local authorities to coordinate support for those who need it.

He wrote: “Instead of leaving local authorities navigating complex questions about what support can be provided to whom, and using what funding source, a faster and more comprehensive response would simply be to suspend rules prohibiting recourse to public funds and to make direct financial provisions for local authorities to work with those who have NRPF.

“I would urge you to make such a change as a matter of urgency.

“Such a change could make an immediate and significant impact on the ground.”

He added: “I appreciate that this runs against the tide of years of UK immigration and asylum policy, but exceptional times require exceptional measures, as Portugal has demonstrated.

“Saving lives must be the priority – it is as simple as that.”

In his letter, Mr McDonald also called for automatic support for new asylum arrivals deemed to be destitute or those recently denied asylum status who also found themselves without money.

He also said there should be support for those in asylum accommodation whose benefits have stopped as well as “public health assessments” of the accommodations.

He urged Ms Patel to increase the levels of financial support in line with the uptick seen in other benefits as well as the suspension of the breach of conditions policy, which could see a person’s actions resulting in benefits being stopped.

A UK Government spokesman said: “The Government is committed to supporting people through this crisis and nobody should find themselves destitute, with £1.6bn allocated to local authorities to help the most vulnerable.

“Many of the other wide-ranging coronavirus measures we have put in place are not considered public funds and therefore are available to migrants with no recourse to public funds.

“These range from protections for renters from evictions, a mortgage holiday for those who need it, support for the employed and the self-employed and for those on zero-hour contracts, and support for those who are vulnerable and need assistance with access to medication and shopping.

“These measures all apply to people with no recourse to public funds status.”

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code