Article

Domestic abuse and women with 'no recourse to public funds': The state's role in shaping and reinforcing coercive control

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Abstract

If they are subject to immigration control, women who experience domestic abuse in the UK face particular barriers to finding safety and support. In particular, the ‘no recourse to public funds’ (NRPF) rule means that women subject to immigration controls on a variety of visa statuses cannot access safe refuge accommodation or other support. Based on interviews with service providers in six cities, this article explores the impact of this rule in trapping women in relationships of coercive control. These women expect, and frequently encounter, a climate of hostility to which the state contributes. The state, through this rule, plays an active role in factors that increase danger for women, even as it reduces their options.

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... NRPF has consistently been shown to trap migrants in conditions of destitution (Jolly, 2018), with single-parent families, mainly headed by mothers, most negatively impacted by the policy (Anitha, 2010;Price and Spencer, 2015). Mothers with NRPF are heavily reliant on informal networks and may become 'subject to coercive control' or made homeless and destitute when this support is unavailable or fractured, for instance by domestic violence (Dudley, 2017). ...
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In 2012, the ‘no recourse to public funds’ (NRPF) condition was extended to long-standing migrant families in the UK who had previously achieved rights to residence and welfare through human rights mechanisms. Through close examination of policy, political statements, and media coverage, we make the case that the NRPF extension was – and continues to be – intentionally subjugating and punitive, most aptly understood as a policy of enforced destitution and debt imposed on negatively-racialised post-colonial subjects. In drawing out the implications of our argument, we point to time, destitution, and debt as core technologies of the UK’s migration regime, alongside everyday bordering, detention, and deportability. Denying support through NRPF serves to exclude putatively included migrants while normalising conditional approaches to social support. Our article reveals why moral arguments against NRPF based on destitution fail and suggests that challenging welfare bordering requires a more systemic appraisal of policy frames, intentions and effects.
... In addition, it is also a partial picture because many women were already in temporary accommodation before their first appearance in the data record, and move to temporary accommodation after their service stay(s); indicating longer journeys. It also does not measure the strategies of women who were unable to access services, including those who may have contacted services but were turned away; such as is often the case for women with No Recourse to Public Funds (DAHA & Women's Aid, 2020; Dudley, 2017). The data cover a period of increasing domestic violence service provision in England -and therefore a wider potential range of options for women's help-seeking-before the cuts and constraints on services due to austerity policies (Bridge, 2020;Ishkanian, 2014;Towers & Walby, 2012). ...
Article
In published domestic violence strategies, there is a tendency to focus on service provision and service responses in each administrative location; rather than recognising the extent to which women and children move through places due to domestic abuse. Whilst a woman’s help-seeking may be local—if she has the information and resources, and judges it possible to do so—such help-seeking whilst staying put is only one of many strategies tried by women experiencing domestic violence. Women’s strategies are often under-recognised and under-respected by the very service providers which should be expected to be supporting women’s recovery from abuse. This article uses administrative data (monitoring records), which were collected as part of a funding programme, to provide evidence of women’s domestic violence help-seeking involving these types of housing-related services in England. More than 180,000 cases of service access over eight years provide evidence of women’s three help-seeking strategies in terms of place: Staying Put, Remaining Local, and Going Elsewhere; and the distinctive patterns of service involvement and responses to these strategies. Service providers typically attempt to assess women’s levels of “risk” and “need;” however, such snapshot assessments in terms of time and place can fail to address the dynamic interplay between women’s location strategies and their needs for safety, wellbeing, and resettlement. In contrast, viewing the system from the perspective of what women do provides important insights into leaving abuse as a process—not an event—and highlights the impact of different types of services which help or hinder women’s own strategies.
... This fear is inflated if a person does not have a secure immigration status in this country (for example, if they are seeking asylum). There are additional challenges for women who do not have a secure immigration status as they are therefore unlikely to be able to access the same levels of support if they do not have access to public funding (Anitha, 2011;Dudley, 2017). If the abuser is from a BME background, the victim/survivor might not want to speak out in order to protect them from institutional racism, particularly if this has underpinned a prior experience. ...
Chapter
DVA affects many people irrespective of their social characteristics, backgrounds and experiences. Despite this diversity, many people are often absent from mainstream discourse, research, policy and practice on domestic violence and abuse (DVA) because of processes of invisibilisation or systemic exclusion that result from practices or structures that uphold systemic exclusion (Wilkerson et al., Qual Health Res 24:561–574, 2014). This chapter turns the lens towards some of these hidden, and hard-to-reach, communities, to enable the reader to see beyond the dominant picture of DVA to illustrate that DVA is a complex global phenomenon affecting a concerningly high number of individuals and families, occurring across cultural, ethnic, religious, age and gender boundaries. The chapter sets out knowledge about DVA in relation to the following groups of people who can be considered to be hard-to-reach including: lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer (LGBTQ) communities; male victims; women with learning disabilities; black and ethnic minority (BME) communities.
Article
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Purpose This study aims to outlines the findings of the first qualitative evidence synthesis of empirical research on the impact of the No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) rule which prevents most temporary migrants from accessing social security benefits in the UK. Design/methodology/approach The review used the 2020 Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses protocol guidelines. Data were analysed by using Thomas and Harden’s (2008) thematic synthesis methodology. An initial 321 articles were identified from 13 databases, of which 38 studies met the inclusion criteria. Findings The key insights were that NRPF causes destitution and extreme poverty and has a disproportionate impact on racialised women. Studies found that support services were underdeveloped, underfunded, inconsistent and had a culture of mistrust and racism towards migrants. Migrants were often fearful of services due to concerns around deportation, destitution and state intervention around children. Research limitations/implications The review focussed on qualitative research. Future empirical and theoretical research is needed in the following areas: NRPF as a practice of everyday bordering, the role of the Home Office in creating and sustaining the policy; differing gendered experiences of NRPF; and a broader geographical scope which includes all four UK nations and takes an international comparative approach. Originality/value Despite an estimated 1.4 million people in the UK with NRPF (Citizens Advice, 2020), there is little policy or theoretical discussion of the experience of having NRPF or the implications of the rule. This lack of analysis is a significant gap in both our understanding of the landscape of poverty in the UK, and the ways in which immigration policies create extreme poverty. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this paper is the first systematic qualitative review on NRPF, bringing together the research evidence on how NRPF negatively affects outcomes for migrants, local authority and voluntary sector responses to NRPF and theoretical perspectives on NRPF.
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