Pathways out of destitution

Pathways out of destitution

This chapter sets out what a local authority may need to do to help a person or family with NRPF establish a pathway out of dependency on social services’ support. 

It can also be referred to by local authorities and other organisations to advise people at the point of presentation to a service, where there may be an opportunity to take immediate steps to prevent a situation of homelessness.

Key points

  • It will be necessary to explore and discuss the full range of options that may be available to a person who has no recourse to public funds (NRPF) and is at risk of destitution, in order to prevent homelessness or to reduce their current or future need for social services’ support. 
  • In most cases, establishing a pathway out of destitution will involve accessing specialist immigration advice. It is a criminal offence to provide immigration advice that is specific to a person’s matter unless the adviser is a member of the appropriate regulatory bodies for solicitors and barristers, or is an immigration adviser regulated by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC). Local authorities must therefore ensure that staff do not provide immigration advice to individuals unless they are accredited to do so with the OISC, and should consider establishing lists of local regulated immigration advice services to signpost people to. 
  • Locally, there may be charities and voluntary sector organisations that can provide advocacy or other forms of holistic support which may facilitate or improve access to legal advice, particularly for vulnerable people. It is good practice for social workers to consider signposting or referring to local third sector organisations that work to prevent migrant destitution at the same time as they assist people or families to access legal advice. 
  • Where a person has leave to remain with NRPF and is able to work, or is an European Economic Area (EEA) national who can access benefits if they become economically active, then they may be provided with help accessing employment and other forms of support they may be entitled to, such as publicly funded early learning and childcare, and advice about maximising their income.
  • The Home Office can fund and arrange travel for people who wish to return to their country of origin, and in some cases can provide additional assistance, or alternatively, the local authority may fund a return. The local authority would need to check whether a person has received legal advice about the consequences of undertaking a voluntary return and signpost a person for advice if they wish to receive this before making a decision to take up return.