ASYLUM seekers surviving on just £6 per day have been granted free bus travel in Glasgow as part of a new £2m Scottish Government pledge.

A city MSP declared today that the decision to extend the concessionary scheme after a two-year fight will allow people to chose between eating and other life essentials.

Ministers have agreed to set aside the fresh funding in the next Holyrood budget to continue the project after a determined campaign by the Voices Network, Maryhill Integration Network and Labour politician Paul Sweeney.

The policy is expected to benefit around 5,000 people, although a start date is yet to be confirmed.

Glasgow Times: Paul Sweeney is delighted by the decisionPaul Sweeney is delighted by the decision (Image: NQ)

Speaking exclusively to the Glasgow Times, Mr Sweeney said: “I am delighted to see that money has been earmarked in the upcoming Scottish Government budget to extend the concessionary travel scheme to people seeking asylum here.

“Asylum seekers are prohibited by the Tory UK Government from getting a job and are given a mere £6 as a daily allowance. This drops to as little as £1.63 if they are already living in a hotel. In Glasgow, an all-day bus ticket is £5; bus fares can be a barrier to medical, social or even legal appointments and can leave asylum with nothing left for food and other essentials.”

He added: “Concessionary bus travel is a key social justice policy and rolling the scheme out to the 5,000 or so people seeking asylum in Scotland will transform the lives of people that have fled often horrendous situations. This is a policy that will provide quick and much needed relief to one of the most vulnerable groups of people we home.

“The SNP-Green government must deliver this as a matter of urgency and look at what other levers we can use to help asylum seekers.”

The move was advocated in a report published by the cross-party Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee. The committee previously heard that the cost of bus travel creates difficulties for asylum seekers in accessing immigration and legal advice.

READ MORE: Glasgow City Council slammed by group over £50 bin collection fee

One Syrian woman, who is currently based in Glasgow, told how she was often forced to go to bed hungry after spending months trapped in the asylum system’s red tape.

The 42-year-old, who worked in a hospital in Aleppo before fleeing as she feared for her life, said: “I was made to feel like a second-class citizen. It was as though my life and the trauma of what I’d experienced in a war-torn country just didn’t matter.

“It is impossible to survive on £6 a day, especially when I need to buy food, medicine, deodorant, clothing and other everyday basics. Even getting around the city to attend legal appointment around my status means that the money goes very quickly.

“Some days I couldn’t afford to buy food, I’d have no choice but to go to bed hungry. No-one should be forced to live like that, it lacks humanity.

“The entire asylum system needs rebuilt as its leaving those in need struggling to get by. People are not allowed to work until they are granted permission to stay and the process takes months. I hear each day how the NHS here is struggling and here I am with the skills to help, but because I don’t have asylum yet, I can’t go and work there.

“I’m pleased that free bus travel will continue to be rolled out, but so much more also needs to change.”

The Scottish Government says that the ‘UK asylum system is failing’ but told the Glasgow Times that it continues to work to provide mitigations.

The UK Government says it is working with local authorities across the UK to address concerns. It is expected to confirm by the end of January that the use of 50 hotels to house migrants will be discontinued.