Seraphus Explains: “No Recourse to Public Funds”

Written by: Sarah McKeeve


Many people living in the UK with limited leave to remain are restricted from having “recourse to public funds”. In this blog, we will explain the terminology around public funds and provide some guidance about who can request access to public funds.

What are public funds?

The term “public funds” seems very broad, and could be interpreted as including all support and services funded by the government. However, thankfully, that’s not the case. For immigration purposes, “public funds” is a “defined term”, meaning that it only includes the benefits and services specified in the immigration rules.

A full list of which benefits and services are covered by the term “public funds” is set out in Paragraph 6 of the immigration rules. It specifies the following:

  • Universal credit
  • Housing and homelessness assistance
  • Attendance allowance
  • Severe disablement allowance
  • Carer’s allowance
  • Disability living allowance
  • Income support
  • Housing benefit
  • Child benefit
  • Income-based jobseeker’s allowance
  • Income-related allowance
  • State pension credit
  • Child tax credit
  • Working tax credit
  • Social fund payment(s)
  • Personal independence payment
  • Council tax benefit
  • Council tax reduction
  • Welfare fund payments
  • Job start payment
  • Domestic rate relief (Northern Ireland)
  • Child disability payments (Scotland)
  • Adult disability payments (Scotland)
  • Carer’s allowance supplement (Scotland)
  • Scottish child payment (Scotland)
  • Funeral support payment (Scotland)
  • Child winter heating assistance payment (Scotland)
  • Winter heating payment (Scotland)

What support am I allowed to access if I have a “no recourse to public funds” condition?

If you have “no recourse to public funds”, you will not be able to access any of the services mentioned above. However, it is important to note that the above list does not cover every possible source of support from a public body. Many sources of publicly-funded support may still be accessed by someone affected by a “no recourse to public funds” condition. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Housing provided by a housing association
  • State pension
  • Statutory sick pay
  • Statutory maternity pay
  • Statutory paternity pay
  • Statutory adoption pay
  • Statutory shared parental leave
  • Statutory parental bereavement pay
  • Bereavement support payment
  • Industrial injuries disablement benefit
  • Maternity allowance
  • New-style (contributory) jobseeker’s allowance
  • New style (contributory) employment support allowance (ESA)
  • Maternity allowance
  • Widow’s benefit and bereavement pay
  • Student funding or bursaries through Student Finance England/Student Loans Company; Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS); Student Finance Wales or Student Finance Northern Ireland

A person with no recourse to public funds must, of course, meet the other criteria for each of these benefits if their claim is to be successful.

Can I ask the Home Office to give me access to public funds?

Access to public funds is means-tested by the Home Office. This means that the Home Office will assess whether you are eligible to receive support and services and will only be granted where one of the following situations applies:

  • The person applying is “destitute”;
  • The person applying is at risk of imminent destitution;
  • Access to public funds is needed to protect the welfare of a child; or
  • The person applying faces other “exceptional circumstances” affecting their income or expenditure.

For these purposes, “destitute” means:

  • a) that a person does not have adequate accommodation or any means of obtaining it, whether or not their other essential living needs are being met; or
  • b) that a person has adequate accommodation, but can’t meet their other essential living needs.

A person is deemed at risk of destitution where they are unlikely to be able to meet their accommodation and living costs after three months.

Hopefully, you now have a better picture of what it means to have ‘no recourse to public funds’, what ‘public funds’ refers to, and in what circumstances you may still be able to request access to public funds.

We recommend that any person looking to request access to public funds receives advice from an immigration advisor or solicitor, to ensure that their application has the best chance of success.

If you would like more information, follow us on social media. If you need legal assistance with requesting access to public funds, or have any other questions, you can contact us here, call us on 020 8142 8211, book a consultation here, or send us a question on WhatsApp.