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This Library Note provides background reading for Members in advance of the debate to be held on 20 November 2014:

“that this House takes note of the Azure card”.

In November 2009, the United Kingdom Borders Agency (UKBA) began to issue the Azure card to refused asylum seekers, for the interim period between refusal and returning to their country of origin. At the time, the UKBA suggested the pre-paid payment card would provide “a more efficient system” of support. However, the Azure card has undergone much criticism from parliamentarians and asylum support groups alike. Parts 1 to 3 of this Note focus on the Azure card’s legislative roots and its provision and usage. Parts 4 and 5 address the key criticisms that have been raised about the card, highlighted in a number of reports published over the years. Broader issues relating to asylum support and systems are briefly touched upon to provide some context for the debate surrounding the card; however, the focus of this Note is specifically on the Azure card and not on asylum support issues more broadly.

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