Many people who are refused sanctuary in the UK but are unable to return to their countries don't receive benefits and are forced to rely on the Azure payment card. A report from Refugee Action has highlighted many problems with the card.
Church Action on Poverty are encouraging thousands of people to email the Immigration Minister Damian Green now, and ask for the card to be replaced with cash.
Problems with the current azure payment card system include:
- The card restricts what people can buy and where they can shop, leaves them with no cash for essential travel and phone calls, and stigmatises them.
- It's limited to certain shops, requiring people to walk up to three miles to do basic shopping.
- It stops people from buying in cheaper places like markets – leaving people poorer than if they received the same amount in cash.
- People can't carry over more than £5 in total, so they can't save for more expensive items like toiletries.
- Supermarkets can assess what they deem to be 'essential items' and refuse to sell anything they think doesn't meet these criteria. “One supermarket refused an individual orange juice and socks, on the basis they weren't 'essential'.” (Jackie, Refugee Action Caseworker)
In the words of one Congolese man: “It makes me feel like I’m less than an animal; an animal in this country gets enough to eat all week.”
Church action on Poverty are asking people to email the Immigration Minister Damian Green now, and ask for the card to be replaced with cash.