Merry Absurd Xmas Card – Scrooge and ‘Azure’!!

Some insane dialectics for xmas – time to think about those cash cards and all the pressure the commodity fest puts upon your wallet, then see also the beautiful blue sky and think of warmer places far away, and then remember this is England and the borders are secured by the UKBA. Massive conflicts here – blue sea, blue sky, narrow thinking, repressive apparatus.

Azure [ˈæʒə -ʒʊə ˈeɪ-]

n 

1. (Fine Arts & Visual Arts / Colours) a deep blue, occasionally somewhat purple, similar to the colour of a clear blue sky
2.Poetic a clear blue sky
adj 

1. (Fine Arts & Visual Arts / Colours) of the colour azure; serene
2. (History / Heraldry) (usually postpositive)Heraldry of the colour blue 

[from Old French azur, from Old Spanish, from Arabic lāzaward lapis lazuli, from Persian lāzhuward]

So, having consulted the deep meaning of this lovely cultural festival and holiday time, and considered the Persion roots of the word of choice for describing the sky, it comes as no surprise that pleasure in the blue is corrupted and destroyed by institutional abuse and feckless Government wastage, compounded by an inability to consider humane ways of welcoming those ready to brave the cold hard graft of life in ‘blighty. While ‘For everything else there’s Mastercard’, for asylum seekers there’s just the insult and injury of the Azure card (Scrooge is alive and well in the UK):

A cashless society: the other side of the coin …

By Anne Singh

22 December 2010, 10:00pm

As the seasonal festivities get into full swing, campaign and support groups are stepping up their lobbying against the Azure card – a cashless payment system for asylum seekers – which leaves thousands in extreme poverty.

‘SECTION 4 support’, as set out in Section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, provides for limited financial support to be provided to asylum seekers whose claim has been refused but who are still unable to return to their country of origin and who would otherwise be destitute. In order to receive this support, refused asylum seekers must move into accommodation provided by the UK Border Agency (UKBA). At the end of June 2010, 6,750 people plus their dependants were in receipt of Section 4 support.

Background

A voucher scheme for refused asylum seekers was (re)introduced at the end of 2005. The vouchers were accepted in a limited number of stores to pay for ‘essential’ goods (food, toiletries) only, and could not be exchanged for cash. The principle behind the voucher scheme was to make failed asylum-seekers’ lives as intolerable as possible to ‘encourage’ their voluntary return.

The voucher system was heavily criticised by campaign and support groups as causing considerable hardship and distress as people had no cash to pay bus fares to see their legal representatives or attend health care appointments and were unable to buy food that met their dietary, religious, or cultural requirements.

In late 2009, the voucher system was abolished principally on the grounds that it represented poor value for money and, according to the UKBA, was open to ‘abuse and fraud’. The ‘abuse and fraud’ complained of by the UKBA was principally national and local charities and support groups – including the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) – who would exchange vouchers for cash to relieve the worst excesses of hardship.

The Azure card was introduced in November 2009 to replace the use of supermarket vouchers. It was introduced without any pilot but was proclaimed the definitive solution to the problems with vouchers. However, the Azure card has done very little to resolve these problems, continuing to restrict where and when people are able to shop, what they are able to buy, and often not working at all. From the start, the payment system was exposed as costly, inefficient and ineffective. The JRS highlighted this anticipating that, in addition to implementation costs, it would cost £200,000 per annum just to administer.

The Azure card is topped up ‘automatically’ each week by the UKBA and can be used in a limited number of supermarket outlets…

Read the rest of this article here: http://www.irr.org.uk/2010/december/ha000020.html

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