This chapter sets out the eligibility requirements for key public services that people with NRPF may need to access. People with NRPF are only prohibited from accessing specified welfare benefits, homelessness assistance and an allocation of social housing through the council register. A person who has NRPF will not be excluded from accessing other publicly funded services because of the NRPF condition. However, there are often eligibility criteria attached to these services which relate to a person’s nationality or immigration status, or are linked to being in receipt of certain welfare benefits. It is therefore important to be aware of what services a person with NRPF may be entitled to. Legal aid is covered in chapter 14.
15.1 Work related welfare benefits
A person who is lawfully present and has NRPF may be able to claim the following welfare benefits if they have been in work or have paid National Insurance contributions:
- Bereavement benefit
- Contributory-based employment and support allowance
Contributory- based jobseeker’s allowance
- Guardian’s allowance
- Incapacity benefit
- Retirement pension
Statutory maternity pay
- Statutory sickness pay
- Widows benefit
15.2 Housing association tenancy
Some housing associations maintain their own allocations list as well as letting properties through the local housing authority’s allocations list. A person with NRPF can rent a property from a housing association if they apply directly to the housing association for this. They cannot rent a housing association property if this was applied for through the local authority’s housing allocations list, because this is a public fund for immigration purposes.
15.3 Education and student finance
When applying to undertake further education (age 16+), a person with NRPF will only be able to undertake a course for free if they meet the funding criteria; immigration status and length of residence in the UK will be relevant factors.
The same applies to higher education, as the criteria for lower ‘home’ fee rates and student finance to help with course and living costs are based on immigration status and length of residence in the UK.
Slightly different rules apply to further and higher education funding in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
For more information, see:
- UK Council of International Student Affairs (UKCISA)
15.4 NHS treatment
Services delivered by a GP, treatment for certain contagious diseases, and accident and emergency treatment at a hospital, are free of charge to everyone regardless of their immigration status.
In England, some people will need to pay for hospital treatment and certain community healthcare services, for example, community mental health services, district nursing and drug and alcohol treatment. These services must be paid for up front, unless the treatment is deemed to be ‘urgent’ or ‘immediately necessary’ by a clinician. Maternity care, including antenatal appointments, will always be treated as ‘immediately necessary’. Anyone who is required to pay but is provided with treatment on this basis will still accrue an NHS debt. Failure to pay an NHS debt of £500 or more could lead to an immigration application being refused.
The main groups of people who will be charged for NHS treatment are:
- Visa overstayers
- Illegal entrants
- Refused asylum seekers (who are not receiving Home Office asylum support or accommodation under the Care Act 2014)
Prescriptions may be obtained free of charge if a person is on a low income. They must complete an HC2 form in order to obtain an HC1 certificate. A person receiving accommodation and/or financial support from social services should be able to receive free prescriptions on this basis.
The rules regarding who will be charged for healthcare and what must be paid for are different in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
For more information, see our factsheet:
15.5 Free and concessionary travel
Some local authorities operate concessionary travel passes for people who are elderly or have a disability. People with NRPF are not prohibited from applying for these, but will have to satisfy the relevant eligibility criteria to obtain one. A person would need to contact their local authority to find out whether they have such a scheme.
Elderly or disabled people with NRPF who are resident in Greater London may be able to apply to London Councils for a Freedom Pass.