The Home Office will soon publish data on the number of people in the UK who are being granted leave to remain but are subject to no recourse to public funds (NRPF), the immigration minister has said.
Robert Jenrick told MPs the data will be released when the new immigration case-working system is up and running, which will be “over the course of the coming months”.
Following a request from the Work and Pensions select committee chairman, Sir Stephen Timms, Mr Jenrick said: “I’m happy to commit to him today that as soon as that is in place, we should publish statistics on the number of individuals to whom the Home Office is granting leave, who are subject to no recourse to public funds.”
Migrants granted temporary permission to live in the UK usually have NRPF as a condition of their visa. This means they are ineligible for most social welfare benefits and public housing.
The purpose of this condition is to promote self-sufficiency among migrants and to ensure that the responsibility for their financial wellbeing does not solely fall on the Government or taxpayers.
He said: “Their wages stopped and their jobs stopped and NRPF stopped them claiming benefits as well. They had to turn to food banks, as huge numbers did in my constituency.”
The Labour former pensions minister added: “The Home Office doesn’t know how many people in the UK have no recourse to public funds. That I think is understandable. Once given leave to remain the Home Office doesn’t know who departs.
“But parliamentary questions have shown that the Home Office can’t even tell us how many people it gave leave to remain to last year with NRPF condition attached, apparently because of the inadequacy of its computer systems.”
Sir Stephen asked Mr Jenrick: “When does he now think the Home Office at least will know how many people it imposes NRPF on each year?”
The immigration minister said: “As he noted, data in this area will always be imprecise because by its nature it’s hard for the Home Office to accurately assess the number of individuals in the UK in these circumstances, particularly the cohort who have entered the UK illegally.
Mr Jenrick said the “right time to do that” will be when the migration to the new Atlas system is completed, “which is expected to be completed over the course of the coming months”.
He also committed to improve its guidance and practice relating to the entitlements that people with NRPF have, despite the NRPF condition, which was a recommendation in a report published by the Work and Pensions select committee.
Mr Jenrick said: “Statutory benefits including statutory sick pay, statutory maternity pay and contribution-based jobseeker’s allowance are accessible to all of those who have made sufficient tax contributions, including those with NRPF.
“Local authorities can provide basic safety net support, regardless of immigration status.
“I take the points made by a number of members today about the variable application by local authorities and the guidance the Home Office provides and those are things that we have a responsibility to improve.”
SNP MP Kirsty Blackman (Aberdeen North) asked him: “Can I just check if he is making a commitment from the despatch box to have a look at this guidance to ensure that it is as clear as it can be and that it has been applied consistently by local authorities?”
Mr Jenrick said he would be “happy to do so”.