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3.2.2 Families with No Recourse to Public Funds


  1. Families with No Recourse to Public Funds
  2. Working with Families with no Recourse to Public Funds
  3. Independent Family Returns Panel

1. Families with No Recourse to Public Funds

People who have no legal entitlement to financial support or assistance from the state are people who have no recourse to public funds. They may self-refer for support or be referred by other agencies.

Cambridgeshire Children's Services is likely to be approached by families with children, or by children or young people who are unaccompanied or separated from their parent or legal/customary caregiver.

These families may be:

  1. People with refugee status from another European Economic Area (EEA) country other than the UK or are dependents of people in the UK who have refugee status from a EEA country other than the UK;
  2. People who are citizens of an EEA country other than the UK or are the dependents of people who are citizens of an EEA country other than the UK;
  3. Failed asylum seekers who have exhausted their appeal rights and who have failed to co-operate with removal directions;
  4. Persons who are unlawfully present in the UK who are not asylum-seekers, for example, people who have overstayed their leave to remain, people who have been trafficked into the country, people who entered the country illegally;
  5. People who have been granted limited leave to remain on the condition that they have no recourse to public funds, for example, people who are spouses/unmarried partners of persons with British citizenship or indefinite leave to remain, who have been granted a two year probationary period on condition of no recourse to public funds;
  6. People who have been granted discretionary leave to remain, for example, 'separated' children or young people from non-suspensive appeal countries whom the Home Office does not grant either refugee status or humanitarian protection, and are given 12 months leave to remain or until their 18th birthday, whichever is shorter;
  7. People on student visas who are unable to work and have no recourse to public funds.

This list is by no means exhaustive but provides examples of the categories of people who may present to Children's Services as destitute and have no recourse to public funds.

The local authority is restricted by legislation in what it can provide in terms of assistance and support for all the categories of people outlined in the previous section.

Under Section 54 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, families who fall under categories (a) to (d) are not eligible for support from the local authority under Sections 17, 23C, 24A or 24B of the Children Act 1989. They are also not eligible for adult social care support under the Care Act 2014 or accommodation under homelessness legislation.

The Home Office allows for limited forms of assistance to be given by local authorities to some families and this could be in the form of:

  • Travel assistance to leave the UK to people with dependents under 18 years;
  • Temporary accommodation to people with dependents under 18 years awaiting the implementation of their travel arrangements;
  • Temporary accommodation to people in category (d) with dependents under 18 who are awaiting instructions for removal.

However, the local authority still has the following duties towards all children, young people and families regardless of their status:

  • To carry out a Child in Need Assessment for all children under 18 years old who are in families, where there may be concerns about a child/children's welfare and/or safety under the Children Act 1989 (including any issues that may indicate that the child is or has been trafficked or a victim of compulsory labour, servitude and slavery);
  • To carry out a Child in Need Assessment for all 'separated' children under the age of 18 and to provide them with services in line with needs identified under the Children Act 1989;
  • To carry out an assessment of an adult for community care services under the Care Act 2014 where the adult's need for such services have not arisen solely due to destitution and/or to avoid a breach of the adult's human rights which would otherwise occur if no services were provided. This would require a referral to Adult Services.

2. Working with Families with no Recourse to Public Funds

Families with no recourse to public funds usually present by self-referral or via a partner agency. The initial referral will be managed by MASH who would prioritise any safeguarding issue, but otherwise pass the child/family for assessment by the District team.

When interviewing members of the family, social workers should explore, as fully as possible, existing sources of help and support in the community, voluntary groups, social networks etc.

The assessment must consider all aspects of each child's needs and because of the 'no recourse' status of the parents, social workers will also have to check the following:

  1. Key Documents;
  2. Local Connection;
  3. Immigration Status;
  4. Destitution.

1. Key Documents

  • Those seeking a service should be asked to verify their identity and immigration status with the production of the following forms of identification:
    • Passports and birth certificates for all members of the family;
    • If available, travel documents e.g. return air tickets;
    • Home Officer papers (Application Registration Card (ARC), application letters or refusal letters) and solicitor's letters; and
    • If available, bank account statements (from the last 3 months).
  • All identification documents supplied must be original documents, which should be photo-copied or scanned and the copy/scanned documents retained on file;
  • The person seeking a service must have sufficient identification although this may not be possible if, for example, they are fleeing domestic violence and abuse. In such cases evidence should be established at a later date through the assistance of a solicitor or the police;
  • If they do not bring the necessary documentation on first presentation, the assessment can still go ahead but the social worker must inform them that any decisions regarding provision of support can only normally be made when they have provided the appropriate documents. However, where a family appears destitute, services may still be provided with the line manager's agreement;
  • If an interpreter is required, one should be made available for interviews, either in person or via Language Line;
  • If the applicant or any dependents have health needs, they should be asked for any available documentary evidence of ill health or disability for any member of the family, and contact details of previous practitioners.

2. Local Connection

  • It is important to establish where the family has a local connection as another local authority might have responsibility for them;
  • Local connection criteria need not always apply, for example, if the person is at risk of violence if they return to the local authority area where they have a local connection;
  • It should be emphasised that social workers will follow up on the contact details given to verify the local connection;
  • If it is established that the person may have a local connection with another local authority, it may be necessary, with line management agreement, to obtain legal advice about 'ordinary residence' before approaching that authority to arrange transfer.

3. Immigration Status

  • The worker should contact the Home Office Liaison Lead who will phone the Home Office for an immediate check as to whether the person concerned has a 'live' asylum application, has been refused asylum, or has some other application pending. Checks can also made using the Home Office form (see Documents Library) and sending it to;
  • Social workers should use the Key Documents (above) to establish the status and identity of the applicant and cross-reference this with the Home Office;
  • Social workers are also required to tell 'over-stayers' that they have a duty to inform the Home Office that they have approached the local authority for assistance. This must be done promptly following discussion with their line manager.

4. Destitution

  • It is important to build up a clear picture of the family's circumstances and social workers need to assess if the family is, indeed, destitute, i.e. they have no means of supporting themselves nor family or friends on who they can rely for support;
  • Social workers must consider if the information given both verbally and in documented form is credible. If they do not think it is credible, they must discuss this first with their Team Manager, and take legal advice from the LGSS Law duty solicitor. It is important to be confident that there is enough evidence to the contrary (taking care to record this) in case the local authority decision is subject to legal challenge.

Ending Support

If an updated assessment, or new information, indicates that the provision of services should be discontinued, the social worker should arrange for a letter to be sent to the persons concerned including 28 days' notice of when support will terminate and advising them to seek legal advice if they disagree with the decision. This letter should be translated into the person's first language as appropriate.

Provision of Accommodation

Following assessment, if the provision of accommodation is required:

  • In consultation with the family, the social worker should identify the specific needs of the family taking into account location, type of property required;
  • Accommodation must be fully furnished.

The social worker will negotiate with the landlord the payment of any deposit and the rent and acquire the relevant information to make payment; also

  • Obtaining copies of documents indicating that all safety checks have been completed at the property;
  • The tenancy agreement will only be in the parent's name as this will facilitate future claims for benefits if leave to remain is granted;
  • The social worker will make arrangements for payments of rent direct to the landlord and ensure that Council tax is also paid;
  • If the family is granted leave to remain at a future date the lead professional will meet with the landlord and family to clarify payment of rent, council tax and tenancy agreement. This will be confirmed in writing to the landlord and the tenant;
  • The landlord and family both have a duty to notify the local authority that they are in receipt of benefits/housing benefit and any over payment of rent to the landlord will be reclaimed by the local authority.

3. Independent Family Returns Panel

Under s.54A Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009, the Secretary of State must consult the Independent Family Returns Panel in each 'family returns' case, on how best to safeguard and promote the welfare of the children of the family, and in each case where the Secretary of State proposes to detain a family in pre-departure accommodation, on the suitability of so doing, having particular regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of the children of the family.

A 'family returns' case is a situation where a child who is living in the United Kingdom is to be removed from or required to leave the United Kingdom, together with their parent/carer.

Pre-departure accommodation is a secure facility designed to be used as a last resort where families fail to co-operate with other options to leave the UK, such as the offer of assisted voluntary return.

The Panel may request information in order that any return plan for a particular family has taken into account any information held by other agencies that relates to safeguarding, welfare or child protection. In particular a social worker or manager from Cambridgeshire Children's Services may be invited to contribute to the Panel.