For those who may be unaware, The Azure Card is a prepayment card provided destitute asylum seekers who require support because they are temporarily unable to leave the United Kingdom. It is a discriminatory and wholly inadequate system of support which the Red Cross – as well as many other refugee organisations have called to be abolished.
Azure card Features
– £35 per week
– Can only be used in 14 shops
– No ability to save: money over £5 left at the end of the week is removed from the card.
– Technical problems can leave users without food for days
– Only £3 extra p/w for pregnant mothers
– No access to transportation
In the debate, I called for a cash based system which provides enough to meet basic needs and for the right to work after 6 months in order to end the current cycle of poverty, hopelessness and destitution. The government declined to replace the Azure Card with a cash payment system but did make a number of important concessions which will alleviate the suffering of card users. These included;
- Abolishing the cards punitive carry-over limit
- Making it easier to access transport
- Making efforts to expand the number of retailers
I am happy to say that the first of these promised changes has now come into effect.
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