The ‘no recourse to public funds’ rule prevents people who come to the UK on certain types of visa from getting benefits such as housing benefit or job seekers allowance. The rule applies to women on spousal visas, as well as student visas and other temporary entry permits. It means that if they experience domestic violence while they are in the UK they are unable to get a place in a refuge unless they can pay for it themselves.
In 2010 the government began funding a pilot project and in April 2012 they launched a permanent scheme, through which women who have entered the UK on a spousal visa and have then faced domestic violence can access housing benefit and other support for a limited period while they apply for leave to remain in the UK. This was a really important step forward which has provided a vital lifeline for many women and their children.
At the same time though, there are still many women who cannot get help because they have entered the UK on other types of visa. It is vital that all women who face domestic violence can get protection in line with the UK government’s commitments under the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
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