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Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Calls to abolish 'nightmarish' refugee voucher scheme
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¬†Campaigners are calling on the government to stop giving grocery vouchers to asylum seekers. Under the complicated scheme, which was introduced last year, refugees receive £35.54 in vouchers each week instead of cash payments. This amount is 70 per cent of income support. Any change from the vouchers is kept by the stores. Refugees must use the vouchers at specified supermarkets. Fr Bernard Elliott from the Jesuit Refugee Services said on Monday: "The whole scheme is a nightmare. Different boroughs seem to have different rules but overall they are completely humiliating refugees, and wasting large amounts of money and time. "For example, I know a girl in Uxbridge. She lives next door to a Sainsbury's. She has to travel all the way to Twickenham to collect her vouchers. There she has to wait in a queue to get each one signed. Then she is only allowed to go and shop at a Safeways in Bull's Bridge which is several miles away. Again she has to go through the embarrassing procedure at the checkout of signing each voucher. There are many items she is not allowed buy in the shop. There is also a time limit on the vouchers so she has to buy everything at one go." Fr Bernard said: "The whole scheme is inhumane and unworkable. It should be abolished." A new campaign is urging supermarket staff and managers to sign letters addressed to store chief executives declaring their opposition to the scheme. The campaign by the Committee to Defend Asylum-Seekers (CDAS) is also urging customers to sign petitions and donate luxury items - such as toys - to those waiting to learn if they can stay in the UK. The leaders of two of Britain's biggest unions - Bill Morris of the Transport and General Workers' Union and the GMB's John Edmonds - are also backing the action. Stores taking part in the voucher scheme include Asda, Sainsbury's, C&A, Woolworths, JJB Sports, Mothercare, Peacocks, Iceland, Somerfield, Kwiksave, Morrisons and Farm Food.
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