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Supporting migrants out of destitution

We want significantly more people in London to be supported out of the destitution caused by their immigration status.

The problem we’re trying to solve

Migrant Londoners experience, or are at higher risk of, severe poverty and destitution because of their immigration status.

In 2023, Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) reported that migrants to the UK are disproportionately affected by destitution, making up nearly a third of destitute households. In many of these cases, the destitution arose primarily from the household’s immigration status, though data from civil society indicates that an intersection of migration status, race, gender and disability increases the likelihood of a person experiencing poverty and/or destitution.

For our work, we focus on both those in a crisis situation - who are destitute - as well as those experiencing persistent poverty – but not yet destitute – with an aim of ending migrant destitution as an inevitable consequence of immigration policy.

How change will happen

In certain circumstances, and with legal support, destitute migrants may be able to apply for emergency support from a local authority (LA) or to lift the no recourse to public funds (NRPF) condition from their visa which restricts access to the welfare safety net. However, many may struggle to access legal support, will not meet the criteria for emergency support, fear a negative consequence on their immigration status, or simply be unable to wait for a decision on emergency support (e.g. a decision to provide emergency support to a destitute person escaping domestic violence is currently taking three-four weeks forcing many to stay in unsafe situations).

In this context, London’s migrant advice services are critical. Resolving a person’s immigration issue often offers a pathway out of destitution and ensures people can access additional help. This work is often time consuming and complex and requires high quality specialist advice from legal and community level organisations.

What we'll fund

  • Specialist legal advice. Immigration legal advice, casework, and representation services in areas of law that fall outside the scope of legal aid. Organisations seeking funding will be expected to be registered with the Office of Immigration Services Commission (OISC) or Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA).
  • Funding to increase the overall capacity, coordination and effectiveness of immigration advice work in London. This would include funding in shared advice infrastructure (e.g. for supervision or wellbeing support), partnerships between specialist and community-based provision, and advice coordination to strengthen referral pathways between organisations.
  • Funding that enables lived experience leadership in efforts to end NRPF. This includes funding for legal education that enables individuals to know their rights and better navigate the immigration system, or funding for community organising with a focus on lived experience leadership.

Ready to apply for funding under this goal?