Vouchers are used to support failed asylum seekers under section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 who would otherwise be destitute and for whom there is a temporary barrier to leaving the UK.
Officials, through the NASS Forum, National Consulting Group and Voluntary Sector Chief Executives’ group have discussed impacts. These have been considered carefully and taken into account. The Commons Clearance of Lords’ Amendments stage of the Bill also provided an opportunity to debate their use.
This is a rightly limited form of support, which should not act as an incentive for asylum seekers to remain in the UK once they have exhausted their appeal rights.
Section 43(7) of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 does not extend the voucher system, but ensures flexibility to meet additional needs of those supported under section 4. This is a new provision which should be welcomed.
My hon. Friend the Minister for Policing, Security and Community Safety (Mr. McNulty) asked officials to review longer term impacts, which they are currently in the process of doing with interested parties.
Where support under section 4 is provided in self-catering accommodation, vouchers to the value of £35 per week are issued to purchase food and essential toiletries. The type of voucher issued is not a matter of policy. The vouchers issued by accommodation providers are primarily luncheon vouchers, supermarket payment cards and supermarket vouchers.
Information on the number and types of voucher issued is not recorded centrally.
Article 33(2) of the Refugee Convention allows an asylum seeker or recognised refugee to be removed even if they have a well-founded fear of persecution, where they represent a threat to national security, or where, having been convicted of a particularly serious crime, they constitute a danger to the community.
Section 72 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 provides an interpretation of Article 33(2) of the 1951 Convention and defines the term ‘particularly serious crime’ for the purposes of Article 33(2) as one for which the person concerned has received a sentence of imprisonment of at least two years, or has been convicted of an offence specified by order of the Secretary of State, whatever the length of sentence imposed. An automatic presumption is made, which is rebuttable, that such a person poses a danger to the community.
Quarterly snapshots are published by the Immigration Nationality Directorate's (IND's) Research, Development and Statistics (RDS) Directorate in the quarterly asylum statistics bulletin showing the number of people detained on the last Saturday of each quarter under Immigration Act powers in immigration removal centres.