The cap on the amount of money which can be carried over on pre-paid cards given to single adult asylum seekers is to be lifted.
Section 4 support is given to refused asylum seekers who are destitute and are either awaiting a further decision on their claim, or can’t immediately return to their country of origin due to circumstances beyond their control.
People receiving Section 4 support are provided with accommodation, but have no say in where they live, and they also received £35 a week paid via a card, known as the Azure card.
The Azure card is only accepted by a few retailers and can only buy food, essential toiletries, clothing and credit for mobile phones.
Until today, people using the Azure card were only able to carry over £5 of unspent money a week on their card.
This meant that people have been unable to save up for more expensive items like new shoes or a winter coat over a period of time and instead would be forced to sacrifice other essential items like food or toiletries.
People who were unable to get to the shops to spend their weekly allowance due to illness would also lose a week’s worth of support; leaving them in a precarious situation.
The Refugee Council has consistently called for the carry-over cap to be scrapped and from Monday 23 February 2015 the cap will be lifted.
Refugee Council Head of Advocacy Dr Lisa Doyle said: “People forced to rely on the Azure card in order to survive are often left hungry and in ill health.
“This move is a small step forward in the battle to end the unnecessary suffering caused by forcing people to rely on cashless support. The next logical step for the Government to make would be to abolish Section 4 support entirely, and allow people who cannot return home to be able to live in dignity and meet their essential living needs.”