To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the remarks by Baroness Williams of Trafford on 20 November 2014 (HL Deb, cols 545–67), what further information has been provided to individuals for support under section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 on how to apply for extra assistance, and in which languages.
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what efforts have been made to make it easier for small and medium-sized enterprises to sign up to the Azure Card scheme; and how many small and medium-sized enterprises have applied to join in the last year for which records are available.
It is not currently possible to purchase travel tickets with the Azure card for practical reasons. Accommodation is provided within walking distance of shops and other services and tickets are provided for essential medical appointments.
Information and guidance about travel assistance is published on the GOV.UK website and it is widely known about by the voluntary sector organisations that assist Azure card users, including Migrant Help, which is funded by the Home Office to provide an advice service. Additionally, a mailshot sent out in the week commencing 16 February 2015 provided a reminder to all card users of where to find information on applying for additional assistance.
Any retail outlet that provides food and other essential living items and accepts visa transactions can apply to join the Azure card scheme. The card is currently accepted by Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Morrison’s, the Co-operative, Iceland, Boots, Mothercare, The British Red Cross, The Salvation Army and a few small independent retailers.
Support is provided in some circumstances to failed asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute under section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. This is generally because there is a temporary legal or practical obstacle to their departure, for example because the person is too sick to travel or needs time to apply for the necessary travel document. The Government currently has no plans to change this provision.