Advising BAME communities
The advising black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities project aims to support those working with both existing and new BAME communities - including migrant workers, refugees and asylum seekers - to maximize potential income available through the benefits and tax credits system for families and individuals at the risk of poverty. Official government statistics show that children from BAME communities are more likely to be in poverty than other groups.
This project provides a range of training, information, an ebulletin and support for organisations and those working with BAME groups. You can read past editions of our e-bulletin and sign up to receive them.
Do you work with BAME communities in Scotland?
If you are running an event and would like us to attend or are concerned about child poverty and low benefit take-up, and would like us to give a short talk to your organisation or voluntary support group on basic benefits and tax credits, please contact us.
Do you support or advise refugees?
We produced a factsheet Benefits for new refugees aimed at those who have recently received leave to remain following an asylum application. It explains the main benefits that can now be claimed, when and where to claim benefits and what can be done if they are left without any money whilst waiting for claims to be processed.
Right to reside for European nationals
CPAG is aware that right to reside and the habitual residence test is a particular problem area for advisers who work with people from the European Economic Area (EEA). Following the UK's departure from the EU, the rights of EEA nationals in the UK have changed. Our factsheets provide basic guidance for advisers working with certain groups who require a right to reside when claiming some benefits. More detailed information can be found in our Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook, Benefits for Migrants Handbook and AskCPAG. Advisers can also call or email our advice line for help with individual cases.
No recourse to public funds
People from BAME communities who have come to the UK from abroad may have done so on the condition that they have no recourse to public funds (NRPF). NRPF is a condition attached to being granted leave to remain under UK immigration law and breaching it can have serious consequences for someone’s current stay in the UK or if they need to make further applications for leave to enter or remain in the future.
Not everyone who comes to the UK from abroad is subject to a NRPF condition but if they are it should be clearly stated on documentation issued by the Home Office regarding their current leave to remain. Some groups of people who have come from the UK from abroad are not subject to a NRPF condition, including those with refugee status and many European nationals and their family members who were in the UK before 1 January 2021.
‘Public funds’ includes many but not all benefits. Benefits which count as public funds are those specifically listed in the Home Office’s Immigration Rules. Generally speaking, if entitlement to a benefit is based on having paid enough national insurance or employment then it is not a public fund. However, given the serious consequences of breaching a NRPF condition, if in any doubt it is always best to get advice before making any claim to check whether a benefit is a public fund or not, and also if any exceptions might apply. Advisers can contact CPAG’s advice line for help with individual cases and there is further information about NRPF in our Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook and Benefits for Migrants Handbook. Note that CPAG does not provide immigration advice, only advice about how immigration status effects benefit entitlement.
Access to benefits
BAME communities may experience difficulties accessing the benefits that they are entitled to when compared to other communities. This may be due to the location of services, a lack of accessible information or support to make claims, difficulty accessing language support or translation services, a lack of knowledge of the benefits system or even fears about accessing it, amongst other things. It can also be due to direct or indirect discrimination and prejudice in how benefits are administered.
If you work with BAME communities and believe that they are experiencing additional barriers accessing the benefits they are entitled to, CPAG may be able to help. As well as contacting us for advice in individual cases, you can submit cases to our Early Warning System. You may also be able to raise cases of discrimination with the Equality Advisory and Support Service, a local regional equality council or law centre.
Proving immigration status or nationality, and immigration advice
When advising BAME communities, you may come across people who have difficulty proving their immigration status, nationality, family relationships or a right to be in the UK. This may be because they have lost documents and are unclear what status they have, or they are in a group such as the ‘Windrush generation’ who came to the UK a long time ago, have the right to be here but never received the type of formal documentation that benefit authorities ask for. People who have fled to the UK seeking asylum may have had to leave or destroy some of the documents in that process, such as birth certificates, marriage certificates or even passports, which benefit authorities will often ask for when making a claim.
If you are working with people from BAME communities whose immigration status or nationality is uncertain, or who need help with immigration applications including to the EU Settlement Scheme, CPAG cannot help directly as we are not immigration specialists. Instead, you should seek help and advice from a specialist immigration adviser who is either registered with the OISC or exempt from registration, such as a solicitor. It is an offence for an adviser who is not either registered with or exempt from registration with the OISC, to give immigration advice or assist with applications.
If someone’s immigration status is known but they have difficulty providing all the documents a benefit authority asks for when making a claim, CPAG may be able to help. Advisers can contact CPAG’s advice line for help with individual cases and there is further information about providing evidence in our Benefits for Migrants Handbook.
Links to other organisations that provide information in other languages:
As a second-tier advice organisation, CPAG does not produce translated versions of our information. Unfortunately, it is also now very hard to find any other organisations providing written information about benefits in languages other than English or Welsh. However, you might find some information here:
Please note that we have no control over the nature, content and availability of websites which are not under the control of CPAG. Any links should not be taken as a recommendation or endorsement of the views expressed within them, and CPAG cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information.
If you do need to access translation services, some organisations may be able to help if asked with sufficient notice. You can also ask the DWP, HMRC or Social Security Scotland to provide a translator if you need one.