We recently supported a young woman who is in the UK alone with two children. She’s supported by the local council, and until recently was living in a small hotel room with her children.

Maria, GMIAU’s social worker, informed her that even though she has no recourse to public funds as a condition on her immigration status, her older daughter, who is 2, is entitled to 15 hours per week of free childcare.

Maria said, “She was so pleased with the prospect of her daughter going to nursery. She’s a bright chatty girl who would flourish in a nursery environment and really benefit, especially in the current pandemic, from the contact with other children. It also means that our client gets a bit of a break from looking after two small children all on her own.”

“It’ll bring huge benefits to both mother and daughter in terms of the child’s development and wellbeing and also provide some structure to the week and prepare the young girl for school. The impact on the mum’s wellbeing will be significant, and she will be able to give more time to her youngest.” The child has now started nursery and loves it.

We understand there has been very little take-up of this provision of free nursery places. At GMIAU, we think that many people may not know about it. People with no recourse to public funds may misunderstand, or be misinformed, about what public funds are. Services such as childcare and statutory childcare support are not public funds.

And it’s one of the well-documented outcomes of the government’s Hostile Environment policies that people with insecure immigration status are scared to seek out support they are entitled to. Because of fear of being detained or even deported, many may not access healthcare and other support when it’s perfectly legal to do so. 

You are entitled to 15 hours a week free childcare for 2, 3 and 4 year olds, if:

  • you are seeking asylum in the UK and are being supported by your local authority while waiting for a decision (section 95)
  • you have had your asylum claim rejected (section 4)
  • you have a no recourse to public funds condition on your visa and earn less than £15,400 after tax

You can find more information, including further eligibility criteria, here.