The cost of living without cash

Person holding an azure card in their hand  c. Jenny Wicks

The Azure payment card, recently introduced for asylum seekers, leaves many living in hunger and deprivation. This is the finding of a new joint report published by ourselves, the Refugee Council, the Welsh Refugee Council, and the North of England Refugee Service.

The report, Your inflexible friend: the cost of living without cash, brings to light a wide range of problems caused by having to use the card. Problems include people being unable to buy enough food to feed themselves and their children.

The report backs up recent findings by the community campaign alliance Citizens for Sanctuary Glasgow. We are working together to amplify the call to change the system.

The Azure card was introduced at the end of 2009 to replace the use of supermarket vouchers for asylum seekers whose claim had been refused but who were still unable to return to their country.

The card is topped up weekly with £35 for a single person and can be used in a limited number of supermarket outlets. It cannot be exchanged for cash, and only £5 can be carried over to the next week.

The research found that, without access to cash, over half  of respondents could not pay for travel to see their legal advisers, or attend essential health appointments.

Some 60% had experienced the card not working, including 13 people with children, and 79% reported that shop staff had refused the card, despite being in the specified supermarkets. And 56% reported feelings of anxiety and shame when using the card.

Read the report (297Kb PDF)   

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