The long durée of the welfare-migration nexus in Britain: the no recourse to public funds rule

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In recent years, we have witnessed rising interest in the welfare-migration nexus in Britain, most notably in the ‘no recourse to public funds’ (NRPF) immigration condition, which briefly entered the public domain when former Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed his surprise at the policy’s existence during the Covid-19 pandemic. Research and advocacy link the widespread use of NRPF to either the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, which contains the current iteration of the rule, or the emergence of the UK’s self-proclaimed ‘hostile’ immigration environment in 2012. This risks presentism and methodological nationalism by obscuring NRPF’s longer history and the colonial roots of European welfare states. Drawing on early-stage research as part of the Social Reproduction in the Shadows: Making Lives with No Recourse to Public Funds project, this talk explores some central aspects of the history of the NRPF policy and its contestation to better understanding how and why the policy has changed over time and to what effect.

Eve is a Research Fellow at the UCL Social Research Institute. Her research focuses on migration, families and childhood, and subjectivity. She is co-leading the ESRC-funded study Social Reproduction in the Shadows: Making Lives with No Recourse to Public Funds:

Thomas Coram Research Unit, UCL on X:
Shadows: Making lives with NRPF on X: