Cost of living crisis: Nearly 1.4 million families unable to access aid due to visa restrictions | UK news | Daily News Byte


Britain’s welfare state provides an important safety net for millions of people, particularly as their incomes are strained by the rising cost of living. But what is life without that security?

This is the reality for the estimated 1.4 million people in the UK whose visa conditions give them no recourse to public funding (NRPF).

On a winter’s day in East London, queues of people stretch a hundred meters or more down the road.

Braving the cold, they wait their turn to access a food bank run by the Newham Community Project, especially for those who have no recourse to public funding.

The NRPF is linked to a range of student, family and work visas, and means a person cannot access support such as universal credit, child benefit, and the recently announced life support schemes – although others, such as help with energy bills, were . Made universally available.

The number of people using the service has doubled in the last few months alone.

“Being a mother, I am very upset because I have to choose between heating or putting food on a plate,” said a woman in the queue.

“Expenses are going up. Everything my husband and I earn goes into rent and bills. After that, there’s nothing left.”

‘They can’t afford day-to-day expenses’

Chief executive Ilyas Ismail said his service was struggling to cope with demand.

“It’s heartbreaking,” he said. “It’s worse for them because they don’t get any help. They’re all alone. Many of them have two jobs, and yet they can’t afford normal day-to-day expenses.”

This month, a report by the Food Foundation and the University of Hertfordshire found that NRPF families are not only struggling to get healthy food, but they are struggling to get enough of any food, “with devastating effects on quality of life.”

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The government defends the system on the grounds that it expects migrants to be able to support themselves and their families without relying on benefits.

It says that if someone suddenly faces difficulty, “robust and important safeguards are in place to ensure that the vulnerable can get support”.

That safeguard, known as a “change of status” application, allows people to apply to access public funding in an emergency.

However, the process is complex, often poorly understood, and time-consuming: a luxury that many do not have.

Ilyas Ismail
Elias Ismail, chief executive of the Newham Community Project

‘It almost makes you feel useless’

A young mother spoke to Sky News on condition of anonymity.

She and her two-year-old daughter recently became homeless while awaiting a change of status decision.

Her daughter is a British citizen through the father, but he is no longer around, and the mother cannot claim child benefit to support them.

“It makes you feel almost worthless, like you can’t provide for your child,” she said.

“You have nowhere to turn, and you can’t get the help you need right away. Change is not something that happens overnight, and when you need that help now, there’s no one to help you in the beginning.”

Newham Community Project

One organization that helps people in terms of change is the Unity Project.

Co-founder Kaz Hattam says the system needs to change.

“The average application takes six weeks, which is a long time to wait, but we have seen applications take months and even more than a year to be decided.

“It means that people have to go through a very long and rigorous application process before they can access even the most basic support.”

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Earlier this year, the cross-party House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee called for reforms, including reducing waiting times and making child benefit available to all parents of British children.

So far, the government has resisted such calls.

The Home Office said in a statement: “The provision of no recourse to public funds has been supported by successive governments and maintains that those arriving in the UK should do so on the basis of avoiding burdens on the taxpayer.”


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