University of Wolverhampton led project aims to help children without access to public funds

A research project being run by the University of Wolverhampton, in partnership with Hackney Borough Council, has received funding from the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care.

The No Recourse Early Action Model (NOREAM) aims to provide earlier and bespoke support to children and families who don’t have access to public funds, which is known as No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF), and who currently do not meet the threshold for Section 17 of the Children Act.

Children who fall into the NRPF category will normally be children in families who are temporary migrants in the UK, sometimes on a visa, but they can also be undocumented. Children and families in this situation do not have access to most welfare benefits and so are at risk of destitution.

Andy Jolly, Research Fellow at the University of Wolverhampton, said: “This project is important because currently there is no statutory guidance and little information on best practice for local authorities working with families who have NRPF.

“This project will provide an evidenced model of practice to improve outcomes for children with NRPF and provide better value for local authorities. This new model of practice based on multi-agency support will be first rolled-out in Hackney Borough Council.”

An estimated 215,000 undocumented migrant children live in the UK and 100,000 children in families with temporary leave to remain also have NRPF.

Recent data from the Home Office reveals that applications for suspensions of the NRPF condition increased eightfold between the first and second quarters of 2020, suggesting an increase in destitution amongst this group of people during the pandemic.

Children with NRPF are disproportionately from BAME communities, most commonly from the Caribbean, the Indian subcontinent and West Africa.

Supporting people with NRPF costs local authorities an estimated £25 million a year in London alone.

However, there is no statutory guidance about working with children with NRPF, and little research evidence on good practice. This project seeks to improve outcomes for these children and improve value to the local authority by intervening earlier before families reach a crisis.

The project has been awarded £267,034 for a 12 month pilot project which starts in January.