Consultation: free early education for 2-year-olds with no recourse to public funds (NRPF)

Some families with an irregular immigration status have a no recourse to public funds condition as designated by the Home Office. No recourse to public funds (NRPF) restricts families from drawing on welfare support, which also means they are excluded from accessing other government support where eligibility is derived (or passported) from welfare benefits. Previously, this has meant that their children, regardless of their own immigration status, have been unable to access educational entitlements such as the early education entitlement for disadvantaged two-year-olds.

In September 2019, eligibility for the two-year-old early education entitlement was extended to two-year olds from three groups of families with no recourse to public funds that came to the government’s attention.

These are:

  • Dependent children of Zambrano Carers
  • Children of families with no recourse to public funds with a right to remain in the UK on grounds of private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights; and
  • Children of families supported under section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.

In September 2020, following a temporary extension of eligibility during the Covid-19 pandemic, the government permanently extended eligibility to two-year-olds from families in receipt of support under section 17 of the Children Act 1989.

Children from these families are likely to be in a similar position in terms of economic or financial need to families already eligible (for example, families in receipt of specified benefits or low-income families) but who, because of their immigration status, are unable to benefit from the entitlement.

This government accepts the principle that the most disadvantaged two-year-olds should be able to access early education regardless of their circumstances. To this end, the Department has undertaken a cross-government review examining the interaction between a family’s immigration status and their access to educational entitlements. A Written Ministerial Statement can be found here: Written statements – Written questions, answers and statements – UK Parliament on disadvantaged children in NRPF households access to Free School Meals and the two-year-old entitlement.

The Department has launched a consultation on whether there are any additional groups of children from NRPF families who should be eligible for the two-year-old entitlement that have not already been identified. We would welcome your input into this consultation which you can find here: Free early education for 2-year-olds with no recourse to public funds (NRPF) – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Free school meal eligibility will also be extended to children from NRPF families. This change will come into effect at the start of the summer term (April). Guidance for local authorities and schools will be updated shortly.