No Recourse to Public Funds

LAWRS is a Steering Group member and one of the precursors of the No Recourse to Public Funds Campaign, currently made of over 30 women organisations.

On 1 April 2012, the Campaign to Abolish No Recourse to Public Funds achieved a major victory when the Home Office introduced the Destitution Domestic Violence (DDV) concession for victims of domestic violence on spousal visas. The concession, however, does not cover victims with other legal statuses. We remain active in pressing for public funding to enable all women to effectively extricate themselves from violence and abuse, regardless of immigration status.

  One of the areas that still needs to be addressed by the UK Government is the case of women victims of domestic violence or abuse without recourse to public funds. At Latin American Women’s Rights Service all too often we have cases of women who are subjected to physical, psychological or financial abuse, but who don’t have access to any help. They also face cultural and language barriers and find it even harder to ask or access help. These women should also be able to protect their lives, integrity and safety.
Carolina Gottardo Director at LAWRS

The Campaign continues to fight for those still not covered by these concession and calls for the Home Office and other relevant bodies to:

  1. Ensure effective implementation of the DDV concession. This includes:
    • Extend the scheme from 3 to 6 months
    • Fast tracking applicants through the benefit system
    • Tracking of applicants by the Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) for monitoring purposes
    • Training of professionals, including officials within the Job Centre Plus (JCP), DWP, the UKBA and local authority housing departments on the new scheme, delivered in conjunction with campaign members
    • Applicants having access to telephone, rather than online-only application processes, in the UKBA and JCP/DWP.
    • Professional interpretation services are provided by the Home Office and JCP for applicants who need this service
    • Women’s organisations, particularly specialist BME women’s services, are adequately funded to provide advice and assistance to enable victims to access benefits and housing under the new scheme.
  2. Provide benefits and public housing, and the right to permanent settlement, for all victims of gender based violence and exploitation. In the interim, a Home Office pilot should be established similar to the former Sojourner Project (which provided limited housing and subsistence costs for domestic violence victims on spousal visas from 2009-12).
  3. Provide legal aid for all victims of gender based violence and exploitation with immigration problems.
  4. Abolish the probationary period as it keeps victims in vulnerable and abusive situations for prolonged periods.

The Campaign to Abolish No Recourse to Public Funds is currently made of 27 member organisations. It is chaired by Southall Black Sisters and hosted by the Women’s Resource Centre.