UK visa application: 'public funds' explained

Published: Tuesday | March 5, 2013 Comments 0
John S. Bassie
John S. Bassie

Dear Mr Bassie,

I have often heard the phrase, 'without recourse to public funds' used in connection to applications made for British visas. Could you explain what constitutes 'public funds'?

- KG

Dear KG,

There are a number of categories that relate to public funds and the circumstances vary under which a person may or may not be eligible to receive assistance from them while visiting or living in the United Kingdom.

If a person has been granted permission to live or visit the United Kingdom, this permission may include the condition that he or she would have 'no recourse to public funds'. If this is a stipulation under which a person was given permission to be in the United Kingdom, then that person would not be able to claim most benefits, tax credits or housing assistance that are paid by the state.


However, it should be noted that there are exceptions for some benefits. If a person has any doubt, then he or she should contact the department or agency that issues the benefit or assistance that is needed. More often than not, this would be either the Department for Work and Pensions or HM Revenue & Customs.

Public funds usually include a range of benefits that are given to people on a low income, as well as housing support. These are as follows: Income-based jobseeker's allowance; income support; child tax credit; working tax credit.

Other benefits and allowances include a social fund payment; child benefit; housing benefit; council tax benefit; state pension credit; attendance allowance; severe disablement allowance; carer's allowance; and disability living allowance.

There are also benefits provided for in the form of an allocation of local authority housing; local authority homelessness assistance; health in pregnancy grant; and income-related employment and support allowance.

However, it should be noted that public funds do not include benefits that are based on National Insurance contributions. National Insurance contributions are paid in the same way as income tax and are based on earnings.

For completeness, the benefits to which a person is entitled as a result of National Insurance contributions include: contribution-based jobseeker's allowance; incapacity benefit; retirement pension; widow's benefit and bereavement benefit; guardian's allowance; statutory maternity pay; maternity allowance; and contribution-related employment and support allowance.

John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a Justice of the Peace, a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (U.K.). Email:

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