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ASYLUM VOUCHERS MAY BE SCRAPPED

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Home secretary Jack Straw is planning a major U-turn on food and clothing vouchers for asylum-seekers, reported the...
Home secretary Jack Straw is planning a major U-turn on food and clothing vouchers for asylum-seekers, reported the Sunday Express (p26). He has ordered a review amid fears that the scheme is close to collapse.

Each refugee receives£10 a week in cash and the rest - between£26 and£57, depending on age - in vouchers. The system, launched in April , was supposed to deter bogus asylum-seekers, but many shops refuse to take the vouchers. Yet there is also a growing black market problem, with some shopkeepers willing to exchange vouchers for cash.

The vouchers were planned before the enormous influx of genuine asylum-seekers from Kosovo last year, which has put a severe burden on the immigration system.

The home office has yet to decide what will replace vouchers. It is likely in future asylum-seekers will again receive benefits in cash.

Mr Straw is under growing pressure from refugee groups calling for reform of the voucher system. And at Labour's weekend policy forum in Exeter, Bill Morris, general secretary of the Transport and General Workers' Union, led calls for the government to scrap the vouchers. In a recent attack, he called the policy 'degrading'.
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