Ruth Maguire MSP has today echoed the Housing Minister’s call for Westminster to reconsider its position on people with no recourse to public funds (NRPF).

This follows a letter which was received by Immigration Minister Chris Philp which stated that despite the current global pandemic, the Home Office had no plans to suspend its approach to people with NRPF.

No Recourse to Public Funds is a condition imposed on someone due to their immigration status. Section 115 Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 states that a person will have ‘no recourse to public funds ’if they are ‘subject to immigration control’. Claiming a public fund when a person’s immigration conditions prohibit this could affect their status and future immigration applications.

The Scottish Government and local authorities have provided over £875,000 during the Covid-19 crisis to ensure the security and safety of people who are unable to access financial support. Ministers have repeatedly written to the UK Government to reappraise its position and recompense for the money spent in Scotland to accommodate people and support their basic living costs.

The SNP MSP for Cunninghame South said: “The position of the UK Government to refuse to suspend its position on people with no recourse to public funds during the current pandemic is completely devoid of compassion.

“Their position has put many people at risk, including women and children who have had to flee from domestic violence without a stable support network and non EEA nationals who have lost their income and are now far from their families and homes due to the pandemic.

“This is another scenario in which the Scottish Government is stepping up to mitigate harmful policies enacted by Westminster. Thanks to its intervention, people are being housed in safe, secure accommodation and are not being left to sleep rough or in inadequate shelters.”

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said: “The Scottish Government is determined for our most vulnerable citizens not to be abandoned at a time when they need our help the most.

“The economic impacts of the pandemic are pushing thousands of people further into poverty and harming their work opportunities. However, thanks to a rapid and coordinated response in Scotland, we have been able to accommodate people who would otherwise be facing destitution, so they can protect themselves and others during the COVID-19 crisis.

“I am therefore appalled at the UK government’s refusal to do the right thing and immediately lift the restrictions on those who currently have no recourse to public funds for the duration of this public health crisis and would again call for them to act.”