Insights into Disability and The ASPEN Card Transition

August 22, 2022
Data Hub
Data Hub Team
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Data Hub Team

In our 12th Information and Data Hub survey, we looked at two key themes, the Aspen Card Transition and Disability. This bulletin presents data collected from 31 organisations working with people in the immigration system across the UK.

Client Needs and Barriers

The top 4 areas of client need are consistent with the average over the past 4 Surveys:

  • Housing (68%) remains the most common area of client need.
  • Social needs (42%) including isolation and loneliness has remained one of the highest need areas since January along with Mental Health and Legal Support which were both reported by 39% respondents in this Survey.

The top barriers to support for clients:

  • Language or communication difficulties exacerbated by remote service delivery and inability to access digital or remote services have remained top barriers in Survey 12, both reported at 77%
  • Reduction or closure of relied upon services also remained high, at 70% 

Organisational Needs

The main organisational challenges reported: 

  1. Lack of staff/volunteers to meet increased client need (50%)
  2. Insufficient management time/capacity for service adaptation (40%) 
  3. Lack of physical space and insufficient, inflexible or insecure funding (37%) 

The Aspen Card Transition  

23 respondents work with people seeking asylum who receive financial support from the Home Office and answered questions about the ASPEN card transition that took place between Friday 21st and Monday 24th May 2021.

  • 96% of respondents had seen clients with issues relating to the ASPEN transition. 17 organisations told us how many organisations they have supported with these issues: the total number was over 690 clients (an average of over 40 clients each). 
  • 70% (16) are at the time of the survey still supporting clients with ongoing issues.
  • 91% organisations had clients who were not able to contact Migrant Help when they were having problems with the cards.
  • 83% of respondents had clients who went without essentials, such as food, medicine or mobile data, due to ASPEN card issues. 
  • 77% of respondents (17) working with clients supported financially by the Home Office said that the transition has put pressure on their capacity.
“The results were absolutely horrendous. Staff already under pressure in the current environment were left feeling responsible for our extremely vulnerable client base not starving. It has caused the very highest levels of stress and distress for staff in our team who are all experienced welfare professionals.”


22 Organisations answered the questions on this theme.

  • Organisations told us about the additional barriers faced by disabled people in the immigration system, in terms of
  • the inaccessibility of the immigration system and support services and
  • how immigration status restricts access to disability, healthcare and wellbeing support.
  • 81% organisations reported that their disabled clients had experienced isolation during the pandemic.
  • 68% organisations said they feel they need support to provide more inclusive services, including specific funding and training on disability and inclusion. Most of these organisations said that better provision from the Home Office for disabled people would help them to provide more inclusive services. 
“You need to be organised, mobile and have excellent English speaking and writing skills in order to manage the immigration system and get support. The system is not geared up to accommodate any additional challenges - it is a one (very narrow) size fits all.”

Reflections on the Info & Data Hub

We asked respondents what they had found useful about the Information and Data Hub.

  • The most useful aspects were completing the survey and reading the Bulletin.
  • Organisations told us about some of the ways they have been using the data, which include: successful applications for funding, local campaigns, developing service strategies, and contributing to regional sector assessment.
“Questions and discussions have triggered further reflection on our own service and what we can be doing to better support our families. E.g. a focus last year on addressing digital poverty and fuel poverty with children and parents all at home for prolonged periods during lockdown.”

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Download the full bulletin

To request the raw data, please email Helen Barley.

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Full Bulletin

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