Bhatia Best is working closely with a growing number of vulnerable families to challenge UKBA’s decision to stop families and children with the right to work and reside in the United Kingdom from accessing state benefits and council accommodation.

Changes to Immigration Rules came into effect in July 2012 which allow families who have resided in and have established a family life in the United Kingdom to apply for the right to work and reside for an initial period of 30 months.  The new family rules provide that families should not be prevented from accessing necessary state benefits and council accommodation as a means of helping the family integrate into society and build towards establishing an independent family life.

For applications made before 12 December 2012, UKBA’s policy is to grant the right to claim social benefits and housing.  However in a significant and growing number of cases UKBA has routinely been granting the right to work and reside but prohibiting access to benefits and social housing for families as a whole, including children of those families.  As a result many families have had to seek help with accommodation and financial assistance from Social Services Departments placing a burden on local authorities’ already stretched budgets.  In some areas over 100 families are being supported in this way.

For applications made after 12 December 2012 UKBA has a discretion to allow access to public funds if the family’s only means of support is from either a charity or social services department.  Despite many families being supported in this way UKBA has a blanket policy of prohibiting access to public funds regardless of how a family is supporting itself.

Bhatia Best has brought a growing number of cases to challenge these prohibitions which result in families being reliant on social services and unable to plan and establish a private and independent life for themselves.

In a series of applications for Judicial Review, Bhatia Best has been successful in overturning the condition against claiming from public funds shortly following the issue of a claim, with a number of others cases waiting to be issued and considered by the High Court.

Bhatia Best is working closely with the Children’s Society in Birmingham, Kids Company in London and a number of local authorities on this issue.

If you are a family that has been granted “Limited Leave to Remain with No Access to Public Funds”, a Charity that may be working with families who have a condition imposed upon their Leave to Remain, or a local authority that is currently supporting families under section 17 Children Act 1989 due to the imposition of a condition and would like to discuss the issues, without obligation, please contact the Community Care and Public Law team on 0115 9503231.

Legal Aid is currently available for this area of law.