Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Real Suffering in the UK

Poverty and destitution. That's the reality for thousands of migrants in the UK since the pandemic started.
As lockdown hit, migrants across the nation who often work in casual and low-paid roles saw their jobs disappear or incomes slashed. But unlike the rest of the country, they have no welfare safety net to fall back on, because a controversial immigration policy known as No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) means they cannot access benefits.
There are an estimated 1.4 million migrants to the UK from outside the EU who have visas subject to this rule, according to the Migration Observatory, at the University of Oxford.
These migrants cannot receive most government-funded benefits, including child benefit, child tax credits, council tax benefit and disability living allowance or even free school dinners for their children. As a last resort, many migrants are having to turn to charities for help.
The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) pointed out that,  "...we've seen an increase in people becoming street homeless, acutely hungry and not being able to afford even basic medication because they literally have no support available to them."
Since Covid-19 was declared a global pandemic, the Citizens Advice Bureau says it receives calls every 20 minutes from migrants desperate to access benefits.
The charity Khalsa Aid set up a food parcel delivery service soon after lockdown, responding to migrants on student visas and undocumented migrants who were struggling to feed themselves. The charity's workers are delivering more than 200 food parcels each week. Not much but even a little helps.
Charities across the sector, the Local Government Association and the Work and Pensions Committee have recommended the government suspend NRPF altogether during the coronavirus crisis. MP Stephen Timms, who chairs the committee, says: "What we need is for the 'no recourse to public funds' restriction to be suspended for the duration of this crisis. So that hard-working, law-abiding families can apply for universal credit, just as three million other people have done since this crisis began."
Home Secretary Priti Patel insists there are safeguards in place to support those affected and that the policy is in the public interest. Migrants who are applying for, or who have, leave to remain on family or private life grounds can apply to the Home Office for NRPF to be lifted. But the decision can take months.

No comments: