Five-year-old takes Home Office to high court over benefits ban
Black British child argues no recourse to public funds policy racially discriminates against families like his — AND MINE…………
A five-year-old black British child has taken the Home Office to the high court arguing that officials are racially discriminating against families such as his own by denying access to the welfare safety net.
Lawyers representing the boy argued in court on Wednesday that the Home Office’s no recourse to public funds (NRPF) policy, which denies some groups of migrants access to benefits, is unlawful because children with migrant parents cannot access protection from homelessness, hunger and destitution.
They say the policy of denying benefits to this group of children is creating “an underclass of black British children”.
The boy, who cannot be identified, was born in the UK and is being supported in the legal challenge by his Zimbabwean-born mother, who came to the UK in 2004 and has leave to remain.
She has a low-paid zero-hours contract job working for a charity supporting children and young people. Last year she was unable to work during lockdown when her son’s hours at school were reduced. She was homeless at times while she was pregnant with her son.
The boy’s lawyers argued that by failing to monitor the impact of NRPF on people of colour, the home secretary is in breach of her legal duty to promote equality and is failing to assess “the differential impacts of the policy on British children of foreign parents, on non-white British children and on single mothers and their children”.
In papers filed with the court, the home secretary accepts that 80% of migrants subjected to NRPF are Asian or African. Many come from countries in west Africa or from India, Pakistan or Bangladesh.
In a statement released to mark the start of the hearing, Adam Hundt, a partner at Deighton Pierce Glynn solicitors, which is representing the boy said: “This policy is creating an underclass of black British children, which is outrageous. The only reason the five-year-old boy in this case is being treated differently from his white friends is because his mum came to the UK from somewhere else. We are asking the court for the policy to be quashed and for a public inquiry into NRPF.”
The Unity Project, which helps people through the complex process of applying to the Home Office to have NRPF lifted and be given access to state support which is available to other low-income families, is supporting the family.
Speaking as the case opened, Caz Hattam, a co-founder of the Unity Project, said: “The government says NRPF is intended to promote integration, but instead it is making existing inequality and discrimination worse, particularly for black children born in the UK. Many of the people we help are key workers, often doing social care or cleaning jobs, and paying taxes and national insurance, like everyone else – but they are denied the same vital state support as other families.”
This is the latest in a series of legal challenges to the government’s NRPF policy, which was rolled out in 2012 as part of the hostile environment.
The Home Office has been approached for comment. The case continues.
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