Church welcomes scrapping of asylum seeker vouchers

 The Catholic church has joined the Refugee Council, the British Medical Association and other NGOs and trade unions in welcoming the government's decision to review welfare benefits for refugees. This morning, the office for refugee policy of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales said: 'We welcome reports that the Home Secretary has ordered the review and possible replacement of the asylum voucher system. We hope these reports are more than a PR exercise designed to avert a repeat of last year's Labour Party Conference revolt over the treatment of asylum seekers. 'We have consistently argued, based on ORP research, that the voucher system stigmatises and humiliates asylum seekers as they go about purchasing their daily needs in designated shops. The voucher system has also contributed to the climate of poor race relations across the country. 'We believe that restoring welfare benefits to asylum seekers and allowing them the right to work while they wait for a decision on their claims, is a more humane way to support asylum seekers. These measures would be consistent with our commitment to the 1951 UN Convention of Refugees on the protection and assistance of asylum seekers.' For more information visit the Catholic Media Office website

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