ESOL and Destitution funding

Local authorities in England can apply to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities’ £30.7 million targeted funding where they have provided support to those on the BN(O) route who need help with English language or are destitute or at risk of destitution. Funding of up to £800 per adult is available to support access to English language classes for those on the BN(O) route. Funding of up to £2,720 per BN(O) household is available for destitution support.

Below are some FAQ adapted from Hong Kong British Nationals (Overseas) welcome programme – information for local authorities.


  • The funding is available for support provided to BN(O) status holders and their dependents who are on the BN(O) route.
  • It does not cover those who have BN(O) status but have entered the UK through other immigration routes, such as through the points-based system, the youth mobility scheme, student visas or as a visitor. Similarly, the funding cannot be claimed for support provided to those currently seeking asylum in the UK.
  • It also does not cover individuals who have been granted ‘Leave Outside the Rules’ until they have made a successful application to the BN(O) route.

What do you mean by supporting access to ESOL?

  • It will be for each local authority to decide what assistance can be provided to those BN(O) status holders and their families who require support to learn English or improve their English language ability.
  • The ambition is for local authorities making claims for this funding to build upon existing ESOL infrastructure in place within their local area – through collaborating and working with community groups and ESOL providers already established within their local area.

What do you mean by destitution support?

  • It will be for each local authority to decide what assistance can be provided to BN(O) status holders and their families based upon an individual assessment of a person or household’s status, circumstances and support needs. Where a local authority considers that assistance is appropriate, the local authority should satisfy itself that it is acting within the law.

Which local authorities can access the targeted support funds?

  • The funding can be claimed by all county councils, unitary authorities, London boroughs and metropolitan boroughs. Where lower tier councils are providing some elements of the support, they will need to agree arrangements for claiming the funding with the local upper tier council, while ensuring that the limits for English language and destitution support are not exceeded.

When will local authorities be given advice on how they can access this funding?

  • Guidance was issued to local authority chief executives on 29 July. It has also been shared with Strategic Migration Partnerships and welcome hubs. Please contact us on if you would like a copy.
  • Funds will be allocated on a quarterly retrospective basis, which should give local authorities certainty on what level of support should be given to BN(O) status holders in their areas.
  • We have worked with local authorities and the LGA to develop the guidance on clear eligibility criteria for this funding and put in place a streamlined process to access the funding.

Would funding upfront be a better option?

  • As those on the BN(O) route can choose to settle in any part of the UK, providing upfront funding to areas based on our projections could lead to some areas missing out on funding to support any future influxes of BN(O) status holders. To address this risk we are providing retrospective funding to local authorities.

How often will local authorities receive retrospective payments, and does this mean that local authorities have to pay upfront for BN(O) support?

  • Payments for BN(O) support will be quarterly on a retrospective basis as set out in the guidance. If we provided funding upfront this may mean that some areas that provide ESOL or destitution support may miss out on it.
  • Local authorities may have to pay for support upfront for BN(O) status holders in their areas, but the guidance explains the eligibility criteria for this funding. This should give local authorities certainty on what level of support should be given to BN(O) status holders in their areas.

How do you know that the amounts allocated for ESOL and destitution support are enough to support BN(O) status holders?

  • All costs are based on existing local authority programmes/support run by MHCLG.
  • We expect that local authorities will use these funds to build upon existing provision, where available, and that they will work with the Welcome hubs to deliver support where appropriate.
  • We will keep these amounts under review based on further data which will be gathered on the needs and characteristics of BN(O) status holders.

Will local authorities have to provide evidence to support claims when spending these funds?

  • The claim form for this funding asks the local authority to confirm that it has seen evidence that the individual or household requires funding. We have worked with the LGA and local authorities to agree the format of this.
  • It is important that MHCLG and partners across government work together to understand any themes, innovation or good practice emerging that could help inform policy developments in this space. In addition to evidencing claims, which will provide monitoring data as to how many individuals have been supported through the scheme and providing forecasts based on contact with BN(O) status holders, we will ask local authorities to complete a light-touch appraisal of the impact of the support this fund has provided.
  • We would also expect that any local authority receiving this funding would contribute to best practice or similar learning / knowledge sharing exercises.

What if there’s more demand than expected?

  • The available funding is based on current estimates of demand and will be kept under review.

Can local authorities ‘pool’ funding for ESOL to respond to varying levels of support/need?

  • No. We are not allowing ‘pooling’ of funds as we don’t know the level of demand or support needs of BN(O) status holders and adult dependants. We will monitor demand closely to assess whether this position is effective and practical and to consider any additional requirements for future years.

Can the funding be used to deliver online resources to complement face to face ESOL provision?

  • Local authorities and providers have been forced to consider the way learning is delivering during the Covid-19 pandemic. Many are embracing digital technology to enhance the way things are done including increasing digital access. If the online resources contribute to the delivery of the learning and are part of the provision then local authorities can reclaim the costs for this up to the limit.

Can local authorities use the funding to pay for English language classes delivered by a private provider?

  • It will be for the local authority to decide on the most appropriate delivery arrangements and range of providers within a local area that best meets the language requirements of BN(O) status holder and their family members.

What if there is insufficient provision available to meet demand?

  • Where existing provision is not sufficient to meet local need, we would encourage local authorities to consider what they can do to boost provision. This could include working collaboratively across boundaries or in conjunction with the Welcome Hub network to take advantage of available provision, or to procure new provision where required. Additionally, local authorities may wish to connect with their regional SMP ESOL coordinator for support and advice on ESOL.

Is the funding aimed at a specific type of ESOL provision?

  • BN(O) status holders and their family members will have differing needs and level of English language and literacy so there is no one singular uniform activity that this funding should be used for. Instead, the local authority funding requirements should be informed by the nature of existing local provision and by each adult learner’s specific circumstances and requirements.

What provision is being made for young people who require English language support?

  • This funding does not cover the costs of providing English language provision for under-16s, as local authorities have a statutory duty to provide sufficient school places for children of school age (5-16 years old).
  • Where a school age child requires English language support, this will be provided by schools – with funding through the National Funding Formula for schools, which includes an English as an additional language (EAL) component. The EAL factor is the means through which state-funded schools in England are allocated additional funding for pupils who are recorded in the school census as having entered state education in England during the last three years, and whose first language is not English. The funding equates to £550 per eligible primary pupil and £1,485 per eligible secondary pupil in 2021-22. Schools have flexibility over how they use their overall funding to support EAL pupils in developing proficiency in English, as they are best placed to understand and respond to the specific needs of their pupils.
  • Children of BN(O) status holders who are aged 16,17 and 18 coming to UK with a right to reside in UK would be eligible under ESFA funding rules (regulation 40). It will be for individual educational institutions to assess the needs of each student when deciding on an appropriate course of study, and those with lower prior English language skills/attainment should expect to be placed on study programmes that concentrate on need to achieve expected base levels in English, and mathematics where needed.

Will local authorities be able to reclaim the costs of providing creche/childcare provision where required for ESOL provision?

  • We recognise that some learners face certain barriers to participation in learning such as caring responsibilities, particularly for women who tend to take on childcare responsibilities. Where a learner requires creche/childcare provision, local authorities should consider practical solutions supporting learners. Where possible support should be provided as part of the provision and additional costs may be reclaimed, subject to the limit per learner. Further information is required as part of the claim form.

Can I claim for associated costs such as exam fees, initial learner assessments etc?

  • Where possible this should be built into the overall provision and claimed up to the limit.

Does the limit cover a fixed period of learning?

  • The limit can cover any duration of learning as long as it covers the cost of one learner for one course for the first year of the funding.