High Court rules against government on no recourse to public funds

The High Court has ruled that the government must make it easier for migrants to access the welfare system if they are at risk of becoming destitute. In an oral ruling delivered this morning, Lord Justice Bean and Mr Justice Chamberlain found that Home Office policy on no recourse to public funds is in breach of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Solicitors, representing the family who took the case, say that “a detailed judgment and order will follow, which will set out the steps the Home Office needs to take to comply with the judges’ ruling”.

The solicitor, acting for the charity Project 17 (which intervened in support of the family), says that the case concerns the default no recourse condition imposed on migrants on a ten-year route to settlement. According to the oral judgment, caseworkers will in future have to lift the condition when the person is not destitute but will imminently become destitute without access to the welfare system. The court made clear that the Home Office will still be able to impose the no resource condition “in the normal run of cases”.

The no recourse to public funds issue has become particularly pressing during the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen many migrants thrown out of work and unable to get benefits. But the judges said they were not ordering any immediate change to Home Office policy. The court will decide on the exact terms of the order at a later date.

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