January 20, 2022

How do I survive now? The impact of living with No Recourse to Public Funds

Citizens Advice study – November 2021

Alex Owers, Graduate Executive
A person with NRPF (No Recourse to Public Funds) has no entitlement to the majority of welfare benefits, including income support, housing benefit and a range of allowances and tax credits.

As we start the new year with hopes for a better one than the last, there are some people in the UK who are wondering how they will survive

No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) is a condition applied to the visas of some migrants in the UK. A person with NRPF has no entitlement to the majority of welfare benefits, including income support, housing benefit and a range of allowances and tax credits. With very little state support, people with NRPF often find themselves on the brink of destitution or already in its throes. Inevitably, this is a situation that has only been exacerbated by the pandemic.

We helped Citizens Advice to conduct some unprecedented quantitative and qualitative research with people with NRPF, exploring the ways in which this condition impacts their lives. Despite the stories of people with NRPF being promoted by charities and not-for-profits in the public domain, a large sample of this population – which the Institute for Public Policy estimates make up 1.3 million people in the UK – have never been systematically studied. The difficulties they face because of NRPF have remained in the shadows of public knowledge.

For the quantitative element of the study we surveyed 397 people who have NRPF. This was followed up by the qualitative element, which consisted of 9 deep-dive interviews. Our mixed methodology approach helped us to build a comprehensive picture of what the lives of people with NRPF is like, how the condition affects different people in different ways, and to gain an insight into the kinds of support they might benefit from.

In the quantitative element of the study we found that people with NRPF:

  • Are at considerable risk of suffering from mental health problems
  • Are at considerable risk of falling behind on household bills
  • Are considerably more likely than the average UK citizen to live in overcrowded accommodation
  • Are more likely to be unemployed than the average UK citizen, and more likely to have to take up informal work to make ends meet
  • Were poorer than the average UK household before the pandemic, and have generally lost a significant proportion of their income because of it

Through the deep-dive interviews we found further support for above mentioned findings, as well as additional insight into the emotional, physiological, and psychological impacts of NRPF, with interviewees expressing feelings of isolation and of being pushed to the fringes of British society during the pandemic.

Given these findings, it should come as no surprise that Citizens Advice’ ambition is to see an end to No Recourse to Public Funds. While Britain’s system of immigration governance is unlikely to change to this extent in 2022, our hope is that this research will at least contribute to a much-needed conversation around this issue.

The full report – How do I survive now? – can be accessed here:



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