No recourse to public funds: a qualitative evidence synthesis

Andy Jolly, Jasber Singh, Sunila Lobo

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)
    39 Downloads (Pure)


    Purpose: This study aims to outlines the findings of the first qualitative evidence synthesis of empirical research on the impact of the No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) rule which prevents most temporary migrants from accessing social security benefits in the UK. Design/methodology/approach: The review used the 2020 Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses protocol guidelines. Data were analysed by using Thomas and Harden’s (2008) thematic synthesis methodology. An initial 321 articles were identified from 13 databases, of which 38 studies met the inclusion criteria. Findings: The key insights were that NRPF causes destitution and extreme poverty and has a disproportionate impact on racialised women. Studies found that support services were underdeveloped, underfunded, inconsistent and had a culture of mistrust and racism towards migrants. Migrants were often fearful of services due to concerns around deportation, destitution and state intervention around children. Research limitations/implications: The review focussed on qualitative research. Future empirical and theoretical research is needed in the following areas: NRPF as a practice of everyday bordering, the role of the Home Office in creating and sustaining the policy; differing gendered experiences of NRPF; and a broader geographical scope which includes all four UK nations and takes an international comparative approach. Originality/value: Despite an estimated 1.4 million people in the UK with NRPF (Citizens Advice, 2020), there is little policy or theoretical discussion of the experience of having NRPF or the implications of the rule. This lack of analysis is a significant gap in both our understanding of the landscape of poverty in the UK, and the ways in which immigration policies create extreme poverty. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this paper is the first systematic qualitative review on NRPF, bringing together the research evidence on how NRPF negatively affects outcomes for migrants, local authority and voluntary sector responses to NRPF and theoretical perspectives on NRPF.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)107-123
    Number of pages16
    JournalInternational Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care
    Issue number1
    Early online date2 Mar 2022
    Publication statusPublished - 10 Mar 2022

    Bibliographical note

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    • Destitution
    • Everyday bordering
    • Gender
    • Migrants
    • NRPF

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Health(social science)
    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Law


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