Blunkett confirms smart cards will replace vouchers

The much criticised voucher scheme for asylum seekers will be
phased out before next September, home secretary David Blunkett
said in a statement to the House of Commons, writes
Lauren Revans

Outlining the government’s long-overdue “fundamental
overhaul” of asylum policies, Blunkett said the voucher scheme and
system of dispersing asylum seekers into local authority
accommodation would be replaced by a national network of induction,
accommodation and removal centres, and the introduction of ID smart
cards for all asylum seekers.

The smart cards, to be phased in from January, are intended to
combat fraud and will include the owner’s photographic and
fingerprint details.

Induction centres will accommodate new applicants for two to 10
days, enabling screening and health checks, and will remove the
need for widespread emergency bed and breakfast accommodation being
used to house asylum applicants when they first arrive in the

Subject to successful pilots, accommodation centres will then
house asylum seekers, offering full board, education, and health
facilities, and thereby removing the need for vouchers. Those
refusing accommodation centre places will not be eligible for any
further support.

Removal houses will accommodate those who are about to be
removed from the country, and will see an end to the use of
mainstream prisons for this purpose.

Blunkett told Commons: “The current voucher and dispersal system
is too slow, vulnerable to fraud and felt to be unfair by both
asylum seekers and local communities. That is why I will ensure
that the voucher system will be superceded by early autumn of next
year by more robust but less socially divisive alternatives.”



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