West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper has raised her concerns with the Home Secretary Priti Patel about the situation many asylum seekers in West Lancashire are now facing due to a change in the government’s debit card provider.   

Asylum seekers awaiting a decision on their application for leave to remain are held in a limbo situation where they can’t work in the UK, but often they can neither afford to travel to another country or even back home.   

The Government provides weekly cash support of £39.63 through an allowance loaded onto a debit card, known as the ASPEN card. This money can then be spent on the card or withdrawn from a cash machine.   

However, since the government changed provider from Sodexo to Prepaid Financial Services Ltd, many issues have been reported, where the old card has been deactivated but the new card has either not arrived or is not working correctly. This leaves many in a state of absolute poverty and destitution. 

West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper said:
“I have written to the Home Secretary asking her to take immediate action to ensure thousands across the country and up to a hundred asylum seekers here in West Lancashire are not punished due to administrative failings of the Home Office and their contracted financial services companies.   

“These people are already waiting for the Home Office to reach a decision on their application to stay in the UK – some waiting up to two years – and during that time they are barred from working despite staffing shortages across many industries, are provided with a paltry £39 a week to live off, and now they are being given nothing!”   

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