A Freedom of Information request to the Home Office has revealed that asylum seekers received almost £160 million pounds last year through the Asylum Support Enablement Card, or ASPEN,
which offered a subsistence payment.
The FOI request asked for the total amount paid to asylum seekers under the ASPEN system in 2022 and in response, the UK Visas and Immigration department confirmed £159,200,000 was received by holders of the cards between 1 January 2022 and 31 December 2022. £1.6 billion over 10 years in total would pay the salaries of around 4,000 nurses for a whole year.
All asylum seekers awaiting a decision on their claims are each entitled to £40.85 a week on top of free accommodation, and free dental and medical attention. The ASPEN card can be used to withdraw cash by asylum seekers with ongoing applications known as Section 95 and can withdraw cash.
Refused asylum applicants are moved onto Section 4 support where they receive free accommodation if they meet the ‘destitution test’ and £35.39 per week through the ASPEN scheme which they can use for chip and pin payments. There have been complaints that those who hold a Section 4 are ‘being spied on’ and this is having a toll on their mental health.
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