Voucher scheme to be scrapped

06 Nov 2001

The Home Secretary has announced the discriminatory voucher system will be scrapped by next Autumn. He is planning to make sweeping changes to the asylum laws and a white paper is expected around Christmas.

The end of the voucher scheme represents the end of one of this Government's most divisive and discriminatory policies, which has been condemned by an ever-widening circle of organisations and individuals.

The poor treatment of asylum seekers is not an issue that, traditionally, commands large-scale public concern yet, in the space of eighteenth months, we have persuaded the Government that its tough new scheme to deal with asylum seekers is socially divisive, is no deterrent and, ultimately, is untenable.

The withdrawal of vouchers in favour of a cash-based system of asylum support represents a significant victory for our work but also the partnership that has grown up around the campaign. The force of the campaign came from the strength of the coalition, with Oxfam, Bill Morris and the Transport and General Workers Union, plus the many other organisations that lent their support. All underpinned by thousands of individuals who wrote letters to their MP or supermarket and showed the ground swell support for putting fairness back into the system.

The Home Secretary's statement on 29 October raised many areas of concern, not least omitting a clear and categorical announcement on how the cash-based system will be introduced. The next step will be to seek clarification on this point and continue to lobby the Government and ensure what replaces vouchers is fair and humane.