No Recourse to Social Work? Statutory Neglect, Social Exclusion and Undocumented Migrant Families in the UK

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

No Recourse to Social Work? Statutory Neglect, Social Exclusion and Undocumented Migrant Families in the UK


  • Andy Jolly Department of Social Policy, Sociology and Criminology, University of Birmingham, UK


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Abstract:  Families in the UK with an irregular migration status are excluded from most mainstream welfare provision through the no recourse to public funds rule, and statutory children’s social work services are one of the few welfare services available to undocumented migrant families. This article draws on semi-structured interviews with undocumented migrant families who are accessing children’s services support to illustrate the sometimes uneasy relationship between child welfare law and immigration control. Outlining the legislative and policy context for social work with undocumented migrant families in the UK, the article argues that the exclusion of migrant families from the welfare state by government policy amounts to a form of statutory neglect which is incompatible with the global social work profession’s commitment to social justice and human rights.

Keywords:  children; destitution; families; irregular migration; neglect; social work; undocumented

Published:   30 August 2018


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v6i3.1486


© Andy Jolly. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.