No Recourse Fund
At least 60% or more of the women that contact SBS have been subject to gender-based violence and have insecure immigration status. Some are dependent on their partners or spouses for their immigration status, whilst others arrive in the UK through other immigration routes. Most are also subject to the No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) rule, which is a central plank of the ‘hostile environment’ policy. NRPF is a legal restriction imposed by the UK Border Agency on people subject to immigration control, preventing them from accessing most forms of welfare benefits and social housing. Breaching this rule puts a person’s current or future right to be in the UK at risk.
We struggle on a daily basis to support abused migrant women with NRPF because the normal routes to safety are simply not available to these women. They cannot go to the local authority (unless children are involved and even then it is difficult) or to a refuge, because refuges rely on rental income and do not have the experience or expertise to support migrant women with complex needs. In 2019/20 for instance, just 4% of refuge spaces were accessible to women with NRPF. As a consequence many women are forced to rely on charity and hand-outs from strangers and in the process subject themselves to other forms of degradation, exploitation and harm. As a result, we are seeing higher rates of destitution, poverty, indebtedness, trauma and mental illness amongst abused migrant women and children. What makes their position even more worrying is that they are held hostage by their abusers who routinely tell them that they will be arrested, detained and deported if they report the abuse. Their passports and other documents and any money they have are taken away from them and they are deliberately kept away from the outside world, in order to limit their opportunity to tell someone about the abuse. What is particularly palpable is migrant women’s overwhelming sense of fear; fear of what will happen to them if they stay in abuse and fear of what will happen if they leave.
SBS has been campaigning for many years to enable all women with no recourse to public funds have access to public funds. This includes extending the Destitution Domestic Violence Concessions [DDVC], currently only available to those experiencing domestic violence on spousal visas so that the period for which public funds are available is extended from 3 to 6 months while they apply to remain in the UK indefinitely under the Domestic Violence Rule (DVR) and to extend the DDVC and DVR to all women facing gender-based violence and to those on non-spousal visas.
Until we achieve this campaign aim, we have set up the SBS No Recourse Funds to provide a vital safety net for those not entitled to public funds. Our emergency ‘No Recourse’ fund is made up of grants and donations given to us to support migrant women across the UK with accessing crisis accommodation and support.
For more information about our No Recourse Fund see
Any donations to SBS to support abused migrant women with No Recourse to Public Funds will be greatly welcomed.
 Women’s Aid, 2020. The domestic abuse report 2020