The hidden victims of the cost of living crisis

The government’s ‘no recourse to public funds’ policy is pushing those living legally in Britain into destitution and homelessness

Source > The Guardian

Letter from Bethan Lant

 20 Jun 2022 16.45 BST

Sirin Kale’s piece highlighting the impact of the rising cost of living made for harrowing reading (‘It is so easy to lose everything’: tales of poverty, despair and dignity at a Citizens Advice centre, 9 June). The combination of inflation, wage stagnation and real-terms cuts to benefits are creating a perfect storm for those with least in our society.

But missing from the piece was any mention of the 1.4 million people residing legally in this country – many of whom work and pay taxes – who are denied access to the welfare safety net by their immigration status. This includes young people born here and thousands of British children who are routinely denied access to support such as universal credit, child benefit and housing benefit, even if they are living in poverty – all because of their (or their parents’) immigration status.

As an adviser at an immigration advice provider in London, I see the impact of this policy, known as “no recourse to public funds”, every day. Parents going hungry so their children can eat. Single mothers working multiple jobs, unable to pay rent. For years, it has forced families into destitution and even homelessness.

Though our welfare system is far from perfect, it’s still a vital lifeline for millions. As the cost of living crisis escalates, and the government prepares to start cutting off access to the welfare safety net for thousands of refugees thanks to the recently passed Nationality and Borders Act, it is vital that the “no recourse to public funds” policy is abolished once and for all.

In this perfect storm, it is more important than ever that everyone who needs access to a safety net has it, regardless of the fine print on their visa.
Bethan Lant
Advocacy, training and development manager, Praxis

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