Section 4 Azure cards – ‘shocking’ – join the campaign

Dear Friend

Your campaigning helped to get rid of the shocking practice of providing asylum support through vouchers. But now these vouchers have been replaced with a payment card that restricts where, when and what people can buy.

We need your help to call for cash support for asylum seekers, to allow them to live in dignity.

What Parliament can do
The Home Office is currently carrying out an Asylum Improvement Project, examining ways to make the asylum system more efficient. The government should use this opportunity to end the inhumane system of denying people access to cash support, amending legislation to allow the Azure payment card to be replaced by cash support for all destitute asylum seekers until they return to their country of origin.
We want the government to act now to reverse this unjust policy towards some of the UK’s most vulnerable people. It is in nobody’s interest that asylum seekers are further marginalised, experience ill health and hunger, and are even forced into criminal activity as a result of extreme poverty while waiting to return to their country of origin.
We need parliamentary support to make the government act:

Please write to the Minister responsible Damian Green MP, calling for the Azure payment card to be abolished and for legislation to be amended to enable the provision of cash support for all destitute refused asylum seekers until they are given status in the UK or return to their country of origin.

Please sign the parliamentary declaration (attached) in support of the campaign to give asylum seekers permission to work. Members of parliament can sign up to the declaration by emailing
For more information on the issues in this briefing, please contact

Many asylum seekers whose claims have been refused but who are unable to return to their countries, are forced to rely on the Azure payment card. A new report, Your inflexible friend: the cost of living without cash brings to light a multitude of problems with the card.

The card is topped up weekly with just £35 for a single person and can only be used in a limited number of supermarkets. It cannot be exchanged for cash making travel impossible, and, for single adults, only £5 can be carried over to the next week. Often the card doesn’t work at all, leaving asylum seekers unable to buy food for themselves and their children.

Life without cash means hunger and deprivation for asylum seekers. One Congolese man said about the card – “It makes me feel like I’m less than an animal; an animal in this country gets enough to eat all week.”

Act now: Tell the government to replace the payment card with cash support and let asylum seekers live in dignity

Thank you.

Marilyn and Anna
Refugee Council campaigns team

Parliamentary Briefing: November 2010 The Azure Payment Card and the need for cash support for refused asylum seekers

Your inflexible friend: The cost of living without cash

  • The payment card will allow the UK Border Agency to investigate cases and cease support if it is not being used, provide management information and cut down abuse of the support system
  • It will also stop the current practice of some well meaning charities of exchanging vouchers for cash, something the UK Border Agency does not condone

While the government begins to put measures in place to force people off benefits and into work, it seems they have forgotten about a group of people whom they are forcing to rely on a particular benefits system, because they are not allowed to have jobs. And rather than giving these people an “easy ride” – as many would claim – this system is in fact causing poverty and hardship because it simply doesn’t work…..

The UK Border Agency has announced that asylum seekers who receive asylum support under ‘section 4’ provisions, will not be able to use their Azure pre-payment cards to purchase gift cards.  The UKBA became aware that asylum seekers were buying gift cards in supermarkets and then selling them to others for cash.  This has meant that supporters could purchase and use them, and in return the asylum seeker could use their cash elsewhere…..