In April 2018, a link was added to information from the Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens in relation to the responsibilities that local authorities have to ensure that children in their care have effective access to specialist legal advice so their citizenship or any entitlement to citizenship is secured. See Relevant Guidance (above) for full details.
- Who are Families with No Recourse to Public Funds
- Role of the Local Authority
- Procedures for Working with Families with no Recourse to Public Funds
1. Who are Families with No Recourse to Public Funds
People who have no legal entitlement to certain welfare benefits, social housing or local authority homelessness assistance are people who have no recourse to public funds. They may self-refer for support or are referred from other agencies.
Children's Social Care Services are likely to be approached by families with children or by children or young people who are unaccompanied or separated from their parent or legal/customary caregiver.
These families may be:
- People with refugee status an European Economic Area (EEA) country other than the UK and their dependents;
- People who are citizens of an EEA country other than the UK and their dependents;
- Failed asylum seekers who have exhausted their appeal rights and who have failed to co-operate with removal directions;
- Persons who are unlawfully present in the UK who are not current asylum-seekers, for example, people who have overstayed their leave to remain, people who have been trafficked into the country and people who entered the country illegally, including failed asylum seekers where the person claimed asylum in country rather than at point of entry;
- People who have been granted limited leave to remain on the condition that they have no recourse to public funds, for example, people who are spouses/unmarried partners of persons with British citizenship or indefinite leave to remain, who have been granted a two year probationary period on condition of no recourse to public funds;
- A primary carer of a child with either British Citizenship or citizenship of another EEA country, where that child would be unable to reside in the UK or another EEA country if said primary carer was forced to leave the UK/EEA ("Zambrano carer");
- People who have been granted discretionary leave to remain, for example, 'separated' children or young people from non-suspensive appeal countries whom the Home Office does not grant either refugee status or humanitarian protection, and are given 12 months leave to remain or until their 18th birthday, whichever is shorter;
- People on student visas who are unable to work and have no recourse to public funds.
(This list is by no means exhaustive and provides examples of the categories of people who may present to Children's Social Care Services as destitute and have no recourse to public funds).
2. Role of the Local Authority
The local authority is restricted by legislation in what it can provide in terms of assistance and support for some of the categories of people outlined in the previous section.
Under Section 54 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, adults who fall under categories a. to d. are not eligible for support from the local authority under Sections 17, 23C, 23CA,24A or 24B of the Children Act 1989. Children are not subject to these ineligibility provisions. Adults who fall under categories a. to d. are also not eligible for adult social care support under the Care Act 2014 or accommodation under homelessness legislation.
However, the local authority still has the following duties towards all children, young people and families regardless of their status:
- To carry out a Single Assessment for all children under 18 years old who are in families, where there may be concerns about a child/children's welfare and/or safety under the Children Act 1989 (including any issues that may indicate that the child is or has been trafficked or a victim of compulsory labour, servitude and slavery);
- To carry out a Single Assessment for all 'separated' children under the age of 18 and to provide them with services in line with needs identified under the Children Act 1989;
- Where it appears that an adult may have needs for care and support, to assess those needs under the Care Act 2014 and to meet any eligible needs. (Where the adult's need for such services has not arisen solely due to destitution and services are required to avoid a breach of the adult's human rights which would otherwise occur if no services were provided).
Where a person falls into one of the categories to which Section 54 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 applies, the local authority will also be required to undertake a Human Rights Assessment following the completion of the Single Assessment.
Local authorities are also provided with a power to fund a family's return to their country of origin where the parents are:
- EEA nationals or have refugee status granted by another EEA state;
- Non-EEA nationals and have no current immigration permission.
To determine whether it may be appropriate to fund a return to country of origin, a Human Rights Assessment must first be completed.
3. Procedures for Working with Families with no Recourse to Public Funds
Families with no recourse to public funds usually present in one of two different ways:
- Self-referral without an appointment;
- Self-referral or referral by an external agency, by appointment.
Social workers need to consider if there is a possibility or evidence to suggest that the child comes within the definition of a Child in Need or there is the potential for such concern. This may include the family presenting as being without accommodation, presenting with health needs affecting the parent/s or children, for example, chronic health conditions, physical disabilities or learning disabilities, or there being concerns about child protection issues, e.g. neglect, domestic violence and abuse.
If there is a strong possibility of such needs as outlined above, a Single Assessment should be undertaken.
When interviewing members of the family, social workers should explore, as fully as possible, existing sources of help and support in the community, voluntary groups, social networks etc.
Because of the 'no recourse' status of the parents, social workers will also have to check the following alongside completing the Single Assessment:
1. Key Documents
- The person seeking a service must have sufficient identification although this may not be possible if, for example, the person is fleeing domestic violence and abuse. In such cases evidence should be established at a later date via the assistance of a solicitor or the police;
- If they do not bring the necessary documentation on first presentation, the assessment can still go ahead but the social worker must inform them that any decisions regarding provision of support can only be made when they have provided the appropriate documents, and they should have all the required documents before another interview is arranged;
- If an interpreter is required, arrangements should be made with the interpreter to inform the person concerned of the documentation required;
- Those seeking a service should be asked to verify their identity and immigration status with the production of the following forms of identification:
- Passports and birth certificates for all members of the family;
- If available, travel documents e.g. airline tickets;
- Home Officer papers (Application Registration Card (ARC), application letters or refusal letters) and solicitors' letters; and
- If available, bank account statements (from the last 3 months).
- All identification documents supplied must be original documents, which should be photo-copied or scanned and the copy/scanned documents retained on the relevant file;
- If the applicant or any dependents have health needs, they must provide any documented evidence of ill health or disability for any member of the family, e.g. OT reports, mental health/psychiatric reports.
2. Local Connection
- It is important to establish where the person has a local connection as it may be another local authority, which has responsibility for this person. However where it is established that a child is physically present in the local authority area, the duty of this authority to undertake a Single Assessment is triggered;
- Local connection criteria need not always apply, for example, if the person is at risk of violence if they return to the local authority where they have a local connection;
- It should be stressed that social workers will follow up on the contact details given by those seeking a service to make enquiries to verify the local connection;
- If it is established that the person has a local connection with another local authority, social workers should refer the person to that local authority. However it is important to note that more than one local authority may have a duty to undertake a Single Assessment, for example where the child is living in the area of one local authority but attending school in another.
3. Immigration Status of the Client
- Social workers will need to liaise with the Home Office to check if the person concerned has a 'live' asylum application, has been refused asylum, or has some other application pending. This check can be done via email as set out in the Assessing and supporting children and families who have no recourse to public funds practice guidance for local authorities written by the No Recourse to Public Funds Network (see No Recourse to Public Funds Network Practice Guidance);
- Social workers should have the documentation outlined in Key Documents to establish the status and identity of the applicant and his/her dependents and this should be cross-referenced with the Home Office as fully as possible;
- Social workers have a duty to inform the Home Office when a person requests assistance if the person is:
- Suspected or known to be unlawfully present in the UK;
- A refused asylum seeker who has not complied with removal directions; or
- A refused asylum seeker with dependent children who have been certified by the Secretary of State as having failed to take steps to leave the UK voluntarily.
This duty should be explained to the person when they present to the local authority.
The immigration status of the client will determine whether a Human Rights Assessment must also be completed as a result of the ineligibility provisions contained in section 54 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002.
- It is important to build up a clear picture of the family's circumstances and social workers need to assess if the client is indeed destitute, i.e. he/she has no means of supporting him/herself nor family or friends whom he/she can rely on for support and / or no accommodation;
- Social workers must consider if the information given both verbally and in documented form is credible. If they do not think it is credible, they must be confident that there is enough evidence to the contrary (taking care to record this) in case the local authority decision is subject to legal challenge. Social workers should explore reasons for any apparent sudden withdrawal of funding or support from other sources and can draw inferences if there is a failure to provide adequate information or evidence about such withdrawals. However, before any adverse findings are made (e.g. that a person's account is not truthful) the concerns must be put to the person so that they have a chance to respond.
Completion of Assessment
Under section 17 of the Children Act 1989, a local authority has the power to provide emergency housing and/or financial support to a family when a child's welfare is at risk whilst assessments or enquiries are being carried out. If a family presents as destitute / homeless and is in need of urgent/immediate support, the social worker should discuss the case with their line manager. Authorisation must be sought from the Service Manager before any provision of immediate support is offered.
Urgent/immediate support may be provided whilst a full Single Assessment is carried out. Where urgent/immediate support is provided, it is done without prejudice and does not mean that the Single Assessment, when concluded, will indicate a need for support.
When the Single Assessment is completed (and the Human Rights Assessment if this is also required), the social worker should discuss the outcome of the assessment(s) with their line manager.
If the outcome of the assessment is that support should be provided under section 17 of the Children Act 1989 a Child in Need plan should be devised which clearly sets out what type of support is to be provided.
Social workers will need to ensure the Assessment Record sets out the basis upon which support for the family is provided and outlining the needs of the family. This should cover:
- If the family needs an interpreter;
- Special accommodation needs;
- Health needs;
- Length of proposed support;
- The legislation under which the family is being supported, e.g. Section 17 of the Children Act 1989.
Provision of Accommodation
For families with no recourse to public funds who are assessed to require accommodation the following steps should be taken:
- The person concerned and the social worker should identify the specific needs of the family taking into account location, type of property required;
- The social worker should identify appropriate properties;
- The social worker and person/s concerned should view suitable properties and identify a suitable property taking into account the needs of the family and the location;
- Accommodation must be fully furnished;
- The social worker will negotiate with the landlord the payment of the bond, rent and acquire the relevant information to make payment;
- The social worker will obtain copies of documents indicating that all safety checks have been completed in relation to the property;
- The tenancy agreement will only be in the parent's name as this will facilitate future claims for benefits if leave to remain is granted;
- The social worker will make arrangements for payments of rent to the landlord on a monthly basis directly to his/her bank account and ensure that Council tax is also paid;
- The social worker will ensure that prior to and after the family move into the tenancy everything is in place;
- If the family is granted leave to remain at a future date the social worker will meet with the landlord and family to clarify payment of rent, council tax and tenancy agreement. This will be confirmed in writing to the landlord and the tenant;
- The landlord and family has a duty to notify the local authority that they are in receipt of benefits/housing benefit and any over payment of rent to the landlord will be reclaimed by the local authority.
If the Single Assessment determines that the family requires support in the form of cash payments to meet the assessed needs of the child(ren), the assessor must determine the rate to be paid to the family, having regard to the following factors:
- Monetary support for refused asylum seekers under section 4 Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 is considered adequate to provide for food and essential toiletries only and is provided in the amount of £35.39 per person, per week. Social workers should consider whether this figure per family member would meet the child(ren)'s needs for food and toiletries;
- Under section 4 Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 children under 1 years old are considered to require an additional £5 per week and children aged 1-3 are considered to require an additional £3 per week for food and essential toiletries;
- Refused asylum seekers in receipt of section 4 support are provided with the above monetary support alongside accommodation which is inclusive of utilities and so do not have accommodation related expenses;
- Additional weekly financial support may be required at times when the child(ren)'s needs require the provision of that additional financial support (for example for clothing or to enable travel to and from school). Social workers should determine and record what additional financial support is required and whether that additional financial support should be by way of a one off payment, time limited or continuing whilst a particular need continues;
- If a destitute family is provided with accommodation where the rent, council tax and other utility bills are paid by the authority, the financial support rates in sections a. and b. above will normally be sufficient subject to the Single Assessment considering whether any additional financial support is required in order to meet the child(ren)'s needs as per section d. above.
The weekly financial support rates must be determined in light of the Single Assessment, having regard to the above points. The amount of financial support rates should be kept under regular review and the responsible social worker must keep themselves informed of any change in the family's circumstances. This includes changes in the family's immigration status, which may affect the authority's statutory duty to provide support or assistance under section 17 Children Act 1989.
Refusing and / or Terminating Support
If the Single Assessment determines that the child(ren) are not eligible for support this should be communicated to the family in an appropriate language and format. The assessment outcome should clearly state why they are not eligible for support.
If the family/child(ren) have been receiving support and this is to be withdrawn, the decision to terminate support for an ongoing case should be made by the Service Manager. This needs to be informed with an up-to-date assessment.
The social worker will need to inform the parents if their support is to be terminated. This should be done in an interview, with the use of an interpreter if necessary.
The social worker should arrange for a letter to be sent to the persons concerned including the 28 day notice period from when support will terminate and to advise them to seek legal advice if they disagree with the decision. This letter should be translated into the person's first language as appropriate.
Independent Family Returns Panel
Under s. 54A Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 (inserted by s.3 Immigration Act 2014), the Secretary of State must consult the Independent Family Returns Panel in each family returns case, on how best to safeguard and promote the welfare of the children of the family, and in each case where the Secretary of State proposes to detain a family in pre-departure accommodation, on the suitability of so doing, having particular regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of the children of the family.
A family returns case is a case where a child who is living in the United Kingdom is to be removed from or required to leave the United Kingdom, together with their parent/carer.
Pre-departure accommodation is a secure facility designed to be used as a last resort where families fail to co-operate with other options to leave the UK, such as the offer of assisted voluntary return.
The Panel may request information in order that any return plan for a particular family has taken into account any information held by other agencies that relates to safeguarding, welfare or child protection. In particular a social worker or manager from Children's Social Work Services may be invited to contribute to the Panel.