Posted: 30 September 2019
Written by Ben Towse, member of Camden Unison
“No Recourse to Public Funds” (NRPF) is a condition imposed on many migrants with and without visas or leave to remain. NRPF denies them access to a social safety net – to social housing and many benefits. The results are inhumane, unjust and serve to divide and undermine workers – we believe Labour must pledge to end these policies.
NRPF throws individuals and families into destitution, desperation and sometimes homelessness. The racist cruelty of this policy extends even to denying means-tested free school meals to the children of migrants subject to NRPF. Children are going hungry – or being sent bills their parents have no way to pay – simply because of where their parents come from.
And NRPF isn’t just inhumane – these policies also serve to undermine all workers. By making sure workers have a safety net when unemployed, a good social security system empowers us in work as well. When any group of workers are afraid that losing their job means their children will go hungry or they will have no social security to fall back on, they are more vulnerable to mistreatment by exploitative employers. In turn, that undermines pay and conditions for all of us. The same effects are true of all policies that make unemployment particularly dangerous for migrant workers – such as fees for the NHS, or visa conditions that tie the holder to a particular employer and mean they may be deported if they lose their job.
Shamefully, despite many other positive advances in other policy areas, Labour’s 2017 manifesto endorsed the imposition of NRPF on migrants. We say that our party’s next manifesto must pledge to end these anti-worker, xenophobic policies – if you agree, please support our motion to this conference.
And until change is won at a national policy level, we need to press local authorities to ameliorate the worst effects of NRPF. Local councils can themselves provide school meals to the children who need it, as North East London Migrant Action has demanded with their “Lunch Is Not a Luxury” campaign. They can also end their own Hostile Environment gatekeeping of badly-needed emergency assistance to migrant families subject to NRPF. Where our party leads councils, we should be doing this immediately. Where other parties are in charge, Labour members and councillors should ally with local migrant rights and community groups, and trade union branches (especially school workers and local government workers) to run campaigns that pressure the council to do the right thing. Some Labour Campaign for Free Movement supporters are already doing this in their communities – join us!
You can find materials and a model motion about NRPF and the denial of childrens’ school meals at https://www.labourfreemovement.org/school-meals-nrpf/