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Prepaid card delay leaves asylum seekers ‘near destitution’

The Home Office gives asylum seekers £39.63 a week via a prepaid card, called an Aspen card.

Late last month, the contract to administer the funds was passed from Sodexo to Prepaid Financial Services, with has been sending out replacement cards.

Thousands of asylum seekers in the UK have been left without access to money they are entitled to from the government because of issues with a prepaid card provider, say charities.

However, charities say that asylum seekers are reporting a host of problems, including delays in getting their cards, receiving cards with other people’s names, and receiving cards with no money on them.

The Positive Action in Housing charity says that a third of roughly 20,000 asylum seekers are believed to be affected.

In a document seen by The Guardian, UK Visas & Immigration says: “We acknowledge that some cards have not reached service users since they were dispatched.”

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Says Positive Action in Housing: "The Home Office switched off asylum seekers’ debit cards on May 21. Families were told to expect to have their cards from Monday 24 May. But more than a week later, thousands are in a state of near destitution." Prepaid Financial Services has not commented on the delays. Last month the firm made headlines when it emerged that the Central Bank of Ireland is investigating breaches relating to money laundering and risk and control frameworks at the business.

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