JRS UK has hailed a success for migrant campaigners and those who support them, as the government has announced that free school meals will permanently be available to all children from families subjected to No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) conditions.
Families with No Recourse to Public Funds are routinely at greater risk of food poverty and hunger because they are denied the basic safety net accessible to others. During the pandemic, when many families abruptly lost jobs, it came to light that children whose families had no recourse to public funds were often going hungry. Under pressure from campaigners, the government ultimately agreed to temporarily extend free school meals to children from NRPF families. As the immediate impact of the pandemic became less severe, the government was considering reversing this policy. This would have left children going hungry at a moment where the cost of living is rising rapidly and many families are likely to struggle to put enough food on the table at home.
Sophie Cartwright, JRS UK’s Senior Policy Officer, said: “Many parents who were wondering how they were going to feed their children will be greatly relieved by this news. This is proof that humanity can win, and it shows what can be achieved when we all come together to call for change. It is horrifying that it took a global pandemic to bring this change about, and that even then, the government were thinking of reversing it. As we celebrate this change, we must build on it in building a society in which everyone can access what they need, irrespective of immigration status.”
NRPF conditions are placed on a range of visas and apply to many migrants with permission to work. Limitations on free school meals also impact asylum seeking families given very basic support under Section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, typically after an initial refusal of asylum. Families on asylum support routinely struggle to make ends meet.