Destitution Payments


Giving someone physical money. This is usually done in-person.

Last updated:
May 24, 2021
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  • Simple
  • Flexible
  • A choice in how they spend payments
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  • Administration burden - bank visits
  • Time spent travelling for collection or delivery
  • Safety issues, especially for those who sleep rough

Suitable for

  • Those who have a face to face contact with the recipient
  • Recipients unable to receive via other means

Detailed comparison

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Set-up fee

Management fee

Admin fee

ATM withdrawal fee

How to issue

How to manage

Equals prepaid card


No fee

No fee

Currently unknown


Card set up and posted

Via online portal

Bankable prepaid card


No fee

No fee

£6 per card
50p activation
1% loading

60p on some ATMs

Card set up and posted

Via online portal

Potential Deals

It is worth being aware that deals through organisations may be made available in the future.

NACCOM had negotiated a bulk purchase with Equals.

View the expired deal with NACCOM

Useful information


May 24, 2021

What service users are saying

We asked BRAVE members what people would need to know to use a prepaid card. They told us the most important things were:
- How to set up the card and use the online app
- How to get the pin number
- How to check the balance
- How to get a replacement if you the lose the card or pin

How to set up an Equals Card

Jesuit Refugee Services UK have created instructions to help people set up the mobile phone app that goes with the Equals cards.

Named or Unnamed Cards

For most prepaid cards, organisations have the option to set cards up in an individual's name and email address or anonymously - in the organisation's name. Named cards can be used alongside a mobile app to check balance and track spending, and have greater fraud cover.

Creating guides for users

The Refugee Action Experts by Experience group BRAVE said is would be helpful if instructions were:
- Translated
- Available on a website that could be translated
- Relevant for iphone and Android
- Clearly laid out, visual, and mirror what people would be looking at on their phone/card
- Available as video content - especially for people who don’t speak English

Useful information


May 24, 2021

How to top-up a phone remotely

Visit their phone provider website, enter their phone number and your bank details. Click to receive a receipt for your records.

The Coronavirus Asylum Handbook contains more information on how to do this.

Speed up your phone top-ups

Reduce time spent topping up phones by using: beCharge, Recharge, Ding or MobileTopUp to top up any phone from one place.

Topping up in-person

Physical vouchers can be bought in supermarkets and posted, or the voucher code texted.

The best value for money

Data-only sim cards are the best value for money. E.g. Smarty 50GB for £15 (as of May 2021). You can set up an account without a contract, with minimal credit and then add data online, in shops or through PayPoint (1GB for £1) - so you don't end up with unused data.

Reducing data consumed online

LASSN have top tips for how to reduce data usage when connecting online.


Helping those in need to get cash or shopping

Which? have produced a helpful guide to keeping money safe during Covid-19. The information is most relevant for those who are shielding from the virus, or for those who struggle with access to cash and nearby shops.

How to order supermarket vouchers

Find out which supermarket is preferred by the client or check to see which is most accessible on Google Maps.

Physical vouchers:

For clients who do not have a smart phone or internet access on their phone, you can order a physical card voucher from the supermarket website directly. You can also buy this from supermarkets in-person.

If you plan to post these vouchers to the client, make sure you double check postage times. You should also check that the client has enough until the voucher arrives, as postage can often take a few days.

Digital vouchers:

You can order vouchers for the required amount directly from the individual supermarket website. ASDA offer an e-card that can be topped up multiple times remotely. For other supermarkets, you need to order a new voucher each time the balance reaches £0.

If you're ordering lots of vouchers - use a platform representing multiple providers, so you can create an account and track all vouchers you have ordered.

Once you've bought the voucher, email or text the e-voucher link to the client with instructions of how to use it. Try to do this the same day you buy the voucher.

Check back with the client to see if they received the voucher and whether they had any problems using it.

Useful information


May 24, 2021

Where can I use them?

PayPoint vouchers can be exchanged for cash or energy credits in participating shops. Look out for the PayPoint sign outside the shop or in the window.

Set-up and management fees for organisations

Setup Charges
Set Up Fee = £3850
Platform Management Annual Fee = £5,250.00
Annual User Licence Fee = £160.00 per user
User Set Up Fee = £315.00 per user 

Transaction Fees
Transaction fee = 63p per transaction
SMS to client = 7p per SMS
Transaction cancellation charge = 52.50p per cancellation
SMS Access Identifier Fee = 7p per SMS - There is a charge for this as every time the user logs in to the portal, they will receive an SMS with identify code to enable them to log in.

How to set up vouchers

62p per voucher + 7p for SMS delivery.

Using the online portal, you enter the recipient's phone number or email address, choose an amount and send an instant voucher as a text or email. Or print the voucher to post.

The recipient exchanges vouchers for cash at participating shops. Vouchers can be used in all of PayPoint’s 28,500 retail stores. 99.3% of the UK population is within 1 mile of a PayPoint store.

Unless an organisation specifies to PayPoint, clients will need to show a form of ID when accessing their cash.

If someone doesn't have a smartphone the code can be entered instead of scanning the barcode.

Give cash hygienically

To minimise the risk of transmitting Covid-19, you should wipe coins with hand sanitiser or wash them in soapy water. New bank notes should also be wiped clean with sanitizer or soap lather. Don't try this with older notes, as they are not waterproof.

All coins and notes that you receive back as change should be sanitised. If cash exchange cannot be avoided, anyone making payments by cash should wash their hands before placing cash in a sealed plastic bag.

Give higher value payments less frequently

If it's possible, reduce how much people need to travel and be in physical contact by giving people higher value payments less frequently.

Maintain social distancing

Reduce infection risk by managing health and safety risks and maintaining social distancing when distributing payments.

Follow the latest government guidance on social distancing here.

Helping those in need to get cash or shopping

Which? have produced a helpful guide to keeping money safe during Covid-19. The information is most relevant for those who are shielding from the virus, or for those who struggle with access to cash and nearby shops.

Useful information

How to do bank transfers

The internal processes and recording work much the same as your volunteer or staff expenses. However, bank transfers may create more work for your finance worker(s).

You will need the account holder's full name, account number, and sort code.

If the client doesn't have their own bank account, they may have a family member or friend who could receive the money on their behalf.

If paying into someone else's account on behalf of the client, check back to ensure they were able to access the funds, especially before making further payments.

If you become concerned about financial exploitation, follow the necessary safeguarding procedures.

View other payment methods

Prepaid Cash Cards

Find out more

Supermarket Vouchers, Giftcards and E-Gift Cards

Find out more

Bank Transfers

Find out more

PayPoint Vouchers

Find out more

Mobile Top Ups

Find out more


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