Asylum seekers who live off the Azure payment card often struggle to meet their basic needs, a new report by the British Red Cross has revealed.
The Azure card is given to refused asylum seekers who are destitute and cannot return home, for reasons beyond their control. They can legally stay in the UK, but are not allowed to work.
The government gives them temporary accommodation, on a no-choice basis, and the Azure card. The card is pre-loaded with £35.39 a week for single asylum seekers.
The report by the British Red Cross found that those who live off the card often struggle to meet their basic needs. Some interviewees told the British Red Cross that they were unable to eat three meals a day.
This is sometimes due to failures and restrictions with the system, which can leave people without financial support for days.
The report also shows that using the card can cause stigma and embarrassment at the checkout.
One interviewee told us: “It’s a kind of jail… and your dignity is literally taken away from you because of a simple card.”
Jonathan Ellis, head of policy, research and advocacy at the Red Cross, said: “With strong support from Red Cross offices and our partners across the UK, we feel that we have produced a compelling report which calls for the abolition of the Azure payment card.
“This card is causing a humanitarian crisis among some asylum seekers. It is time for change. We urge the government to scrap this restrictive card that causes so much unnecessary suffering and re-introduce cash support.”