The UK government must reconsider its position on people with no recourse to public funds (NRPF) according to Housing Minister Kevin Stewart.
The move follows a letter from Minister for Immigration Compliance Chris Philp which again stated that there were no plans for the Home Office to suspend its approach to those with NRPF, despite the ongoing public health emergency.
More than £875,000 has been provided by the Scottish Government and local authorities during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that people with no access to financial support are kept safe and secure. The Scottish Government and its third sector partners have repeatedly called for the UK government to lift these restrictions during the pandemic to enable everyone in our society to be treated fairly and equitably.
Mr Stewart said:
“The Scottish Government is determined for our most vulnerable citizens not to be abandoned at a time when they need our help the most.
“The economic impacts of the pandemic are pushing thousands of people further into poverty and harming their work opportunities. However, thanks to a rapid and coordinated response in Scotland, we have been able to accommodate people who would otherwise be facing destitution, so they can protect themselves and others during the COVID-19 crisis.
“As a result, many people restricted by the UK Government’s harmful approach, who were previously sleeping rough or in unsuitable night shelters, are now being supported in hotels and other self-contained accommodation.
“I am therefore appalled at the UK government’s refusal to do the right thing and immediately lift the restrictions on those who currently have no recourse to public funds for the duration of this public health crisis and would again call for them to act.
“Their unreasonable and heartless restriction also affects women and children fleeing domestic abuse who have to leave with little resources or belongings and non EEA nationals who lost their incomes and found themselves far from their families and homes as a result of the pandemic.”