Asylum: Finance

Home Office written question – answered on 5th November 2019.

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Photo of Ruth Smeeth Ruth Smeeth Labour, Stoke-on-Trent North

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to ensure that people who are in receipt of support under Section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 are able to pay (a) travel costs that can only be paid in cash and (b) other travel costs in order to attend Home Office reporting centres.

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women

The assistance available to people supported under section 4 of the 1999 Act consists of accommodation (with gas, electricity and water provided free) and provision of a debit card (the “Aspen Card”) which can be used to buy food and other essential items. The Aspen card cannot be used to withdraw cash, but it bears the visa logo and can be used at retail outlets that accept visa transactions.

If the supported person is required to report as a condition of their immigration bail their travel costs are also covered if they are accommodated more than 3 miles away from the reporting centre or in certain other circumstances, for example if they are unable to walk because of a disability.

In practical terms the travel costs are covered by issuing tickets or by uploading further funds on to the person’s Aspen card.

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