November 2022 - Central England Law Centre (“the law centre”) has successfully challenged Birmingham Children’s Trust’s (“BCT”) treatment of a survivor of domestic abuse who is living in the UK with pre-settled status, along with her two young children. 

Following a successful challenge by Central England Law Centre regarding Birmingham Children Trust’s (BCT) treatment of a survivor of domestic abuse, the trust has confirmed that families with pre-settled status will no longer be excluded from receiving support under their No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) policy. 

The law centre was instructed by a client after she was denied support by BCT for herself and her two young children. She was seeking help after experiencing severe domestic abuse and the breakdown of her marriage. The client had moved to the UK as the spouse of a UK national and had been granted pre-settled status. A referral for support was made by Birmingham & Solihull’s Women’s Aid, which resulted in BCT being notified of the family’s situation. BCT carried out an assessment under section 17 of the Children Act and a referral was made to the No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) team – a dedicated team within BCT which has specialist knowledge of the rules applicable to people whose immigration status means they cannot access mainstream services.  This referral and two other subsequent referrals were rejected by the NRPF team.  BCT refused to apply their NRPF policy to our client despite knowing she was not entitled to benefits (their application for Universal Credit had been refused).  Unable to afford the rent and because of the risk to the client and her children from her husband, the family were moved into a hotel room with just two beds.  

Central England Law Centre supported the client to apply for judicial review, challenging BCT’s failure to assess and support this family in the same way as other NRPF families, which would have ensured they received the correct financial support and access to suitable accommodation.  The challenge was supported by Asirt who were able to provide a comprehensive witness statement illustrating that BCT has, for almost two years, wrongfully refused to apply their own NRPF policy to many other families with pre-settled status. 

Michael Bates, Head of Public Law at Central England Law Centre, said, “In the early stages of a judicial review challenge by the law centre to Birmingham Children’s Trust’s failure to properly support our client under its section 17 Children Act duties, the local authority agreed with us that it had breached its own No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) policy by not applying it to our client who has pre-settled status but does not have a right to reside and so is excluded from mainstream benefits.”    

In a statement, Birmingham Children's Trust said: “Persons with pre-settled status who present to the Defendant will now be dealt with by its NRPF team and will receive support under the Policy, which is in the process of being revised following a review.”  

This means that families with pre-settled status will now be assessed and supported by BCT’s NRPF team, meaning subsistence payments in line with the NRPF policy will be properly applied to these families and they will have access to suitable, long-term accommodation from Birmingham’s housing stock.  The impact will be felt by many other families with pre-settled status who should not have to face the same issues as the law centre's client and her two children.