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Labour run North Tyneside Council has had to cancel an attempt to introduce voluntary prepaid benefits cards after only two claimants volunteered to take part. The council claimed that the scheme was misrepresented as being aimed at drug and alcohol users.

The council’s attempts to launch the cards predates Iain Duncan Smith’s announcement to the Conservative party conference last month, in which he said:

“I have long believed that where parents have fallen into a damaging spiral – drug or alcohol addiction, even problem debt, or more – we need to find ways to safeguard them – and more importantly, their families, their children, ensuring their basic needs are met.

“That means benefits paid, I always believe, should go to support the wellbeing of their families not to feed their destructive habits.

“To that end, conference, today I can stand here and announce to you that I am going to start testing prepaid cards onto which we will make benefit payments so that the money they receive is spent on the needs of the family, finally helping I believe to break the cycle of poverty for families on the margins.”

In fact, prepayment cards have already been extensively tested on failed asylum seekers, who are obliged to use an Azure card produced by French multinational Sodexo.

Users of the card report that they are treated negatively, that the cards often don’t work and that they are prevented from buying cheaper fruit and vegetables from markets.

One user told the Red Cross:

"You go to [one of the approved retailers] and it's just refused when they swipe it…. So sometimes you can go for a week without food…. If it happens by Friday - at the weekend they are closed. Then you tell them on a Monday that this is what happened, and they tell you it will take three to four days. So already you're half of the week."

So, the claim by North Tyneside deputy mayor that they wanted to give people

“. . . a financial life-line to better managing their finances so they could be more independent in the future and provide them with great choices.’

may be genuine, but it doesn’t seem to reflect what actually happens when you take away people’s right to spend their money as they choose.


+2 #14 Gwenda 2014-10-16 20:07
This whole idea is preposterous, degrading and any other word that covers such a downright evil idea. One thing I don't think has been mentioned is, what about people who are disabled because they have been let down by doctors not diagnosing or incorrectly diagnosing a patient's symptoms? Also, bad treatment, bad nursing, neglect and operations leading to permanent disabilities. I have very bad neuropathy, raddiculopathy and more besides. My diabetes wasn't diagnosed for several years even though I was constantly complaining of the same symptoms. It wasn't until, due to a move, that I had to change doctors and found out that not only that I had diabetes type ll but was asked how long I'd had a breathing problem and, after tests, told I had emphysema. I also found out that both my femurs didnt fit into my pelvis properly and arthritis had set in as well. My father, normally able to look after himself, had a knee replacement. As a bonus they threw in three superbugs, dementia and septic ulcers on both heels! He had 7 operations in six months. Four of which were at a different hospital as it was likely the former would have finished him off! He has now had his leg removed. That would all be bad enough for a younger person to contend with. My dad was a fit 82 year old. He is now 84 and a shell of the man he was two years ago. I expect there are many, many stories like mine and my father's and they want to make it worse with this Nazi card idea!!! It beggars belief.
+2 #13 Lone warrior 2014-10-16 11:47
This idea should be quashed , pre paid cards are insulting and demonising for people on any benefit.
it takes away social inclusion, for as a card member you are automatically excluded from the freedom to shop where you want, obviously this will lead to prices for the cardholders rising, further exclusion.
Perhaps MP's would like a card for their expenses, telling them where when and how they can shop, maybe with the same limit as to be imposed on people on benefit, ( No didn't think so)
We the disabled have a right a basic human right for social inclusion, this really offends this right, as well as our dignity.
What sort of society are the Tories creating?
Perhaps they want to be as the Spartans, and kill disabled babies at birth.
They certainly see disability as some form of plague on society, we are to remain excluded from the rights of ordinary people, we will have to carry our card around so all know we are on social security, we may as well have the armband to boot, we will be come social leper's.
I hope that not only the disabled and sick all vote at the next election but their fathers , mothers, brothers, sisters, uncles, granddads ect ect all vote too. and wipe the Nasty party out.
I hope we will return to a society of social inclusion and fairness for all. But like many others , I'm afraid I will be a prisoner of hope, while ever this party is in power.
They pick on the weak, whilst grovelling to the multinationals, put as much of their energy into tax avoidance and this country will be rich, but that is too hard to do, so we the weakest in society have to pay our price, a price that is becoming , a burden.
All people with all disability need to come together with one voice, all charities need to come together with one voice, all the families of disabled people need to come together with one voice, and say ENOUGH.
We have been persecuted , demonised , and excluded enough.
+2 #12 Poppy 2014-10-14 20:41
Since I first heard this suggestion I have been increasingly anxious and depressed every time I think about it. I try to be as 'normal' as possible to other people I don't know. I use a credit card that I have had since before my illness that now labels me disabled, when I was working with a good wage. I doubt I would be given one now if I applied. I am not in debt, nor am I an excessive drinker and don't smoke. I manage my little bit of money well, but this system would destroy my life. I live in a sub-standard, unheated flat because it's all I could find/afford with my housing benefit. How would this system pay my electric? My meter takes £1 coins - real money. If I asked my landlord to change them - for they belong to them, not the electric company - I would likely be evicted before they even thought of doing this. This government is a disgrace. The trouble is, I don't believe any other would be any better - but I would love to be proved wrong.
+2 #11 cbjoh73 2014-10-14 19:20
This Sounds like depression era America when workers were paid with tokens they could only use in the employers shops, high prices and stigma for those in need and a lovely fat contract for those enforcing he scheme. Way to go backwards 90 years.
+4 #10 BonnyBunny 2014-10-14 16:34
People ask, with pre-paid cards, how do you pay your utility bills? I have a horrible suspicion that I know the answer - you will have to provide the authorities with a list of all your contracts which they pledge to pay on your behalf. Oh, how good this will look on the News: "We will make sure the elderly and disabled can always pay their bills; they will never have to resort to a payday loan company". But there's a catch! There are only certain accredited companies that can be used, and these are the most expensive and least desirable. You have no choice in the matter, and no ability to shop around for the best deal. If you want your electricity, gas and phone to stay on, you WILL use the companies on the DWP list. Not only that, if any of your bills are deemed unneccesary - like a Sky TV contact for instance - or politically incorrect, like coal for an open fire - they will simply not be paid.
+3 #9 Delilah255 2014-10-14 13:40
I am worried, I live in Northern Ireland and we have very limited access to certain supermarkets. How do I pay my electric(I pay in the post office, my gas as paypoint). How do I buy cat food, its not supermarket tinned or cheap dried I buy? Could I use it online for ebay, I buy cheaper items there?
+3 #8 Paul Richards 2014-10-13 21:04
Hi carruthers & Stuart52,
These cards will most probably deal with none of these. As I have said before - this scheme, if brought in would probably be totally unworkable - and in addition they would cost an absolute fortune to implement. They are, at this moment most probably dead in the water. Unless IDS (with no consultation as usual) - brings it in whatsoever!!
But IDS would definitely support a 'sign' (like the Nazis pointing out the Jews), such as a 'black triangle' to get more 'working people's' hate against any people claiming ANY benefits whatsoever, - apart from the very rich pensioners - of which of course, he WILL soon be one!!
Greynape - A good analogy also!
+2 #7 Greynape 2014-10-13 16:04
Might the following story be relevant to this discussion thread?

C. S. Lewis was walking down the street with a friend one day when a beggar came up to them and asked for spare change. Lewis gave him all the cash he had. When the beggar had left, the friend said to Lewis, 'You shouldn't have done that; he'll only spend it all on drink.' Lewis replied, 'Well, if I'd kept it, *I* would have spent it all on drink.'
+3 #6 stuart52 2014-10-13 14:17
As for the embarrassment - I image IDS would like to have benefit recipients wear some nice identifying mark - like a black triangle perhaps - so that everyone would know who to hate.
hi carruthers...yo u could be more right than you know, the way the government thinks it really is only a matter of time before the hi-vis vest or armband or whatever will have to be worn, for the past 5 years or so I have never seen so many anti benefits programs on tv, all channels are responsible, and I remember last year an MP proposed a benefit card system for all benefit claimants, fortunately it got nowhere, given the current climate of hatred towards anyone on benefits I am sure it will be proposed again,
it doesn't matter who wins the next election, one thing is sure and that is for anyone on benefit of working age there are bad times ahead.
+4 #5 carruthers 2014-10-11 14:27
Presumably Tesco's will finally have something to smile about. And your local market will suffer.

Will the electricity meter take these cards? And the bus company? Or the Oxfam shop where you get your clothes?

As for the embarrassment - I image IDS would like to have benefit recipients wear some nice identifying mark - like a black triangle perhaps - so that everyone would know who to hate.
+4 #4 Wonko 2014-10-11 12:14
It's total nonsense. How for example would one pay for electricity, water, internet (increasingly necessary for DWP forms and jobsearches) etc. etc. etc.
+6 #3 shimtoan 2014-10-10 22:56
if you get housing benefit and rent privately, you don't always pay rent 4-weekly.

my partner and I, for example, pay rent pcm so need to find £30pcm out of ESA to cover the shortfall, although we get the full amount over the year, HB is paid every 4 weeks whereas our rent is paid on a set day every month, and our landlord won't make exceptions. If we got a prepaid card we wouldn't be able to find that £30 so would be forced to move. I've got a learning disability and moving in with my partner was mentally difficult for me, so having to move again wouldn't be good for my health
+7 #2 Paul Richards 2014-10-10 21:09
Yet another stupid, potentially unworkable and very expensive idea from the totally incompetent IDS.
As well as being humiliating for the person at the end of it, what if they cannot get to the 'prescribed outlets' - they could be miles and miles away from where they live!
I would also not be too surprised if they had a 'middle man' company (such as Capita) being given a large contract to oversee it/make payments to be made through them.
I understand though that before this could be rolled out, there would have to be a change in legislation, which no doubt they would push through post-haste! (Also, as I understand it, it is illegal at the moment as they are not allowed to intervene when it comes to spending benefit monies after one receives them)
@pusscatsmum - you are right in your comments. This Coalition Government doesn't care about human rights any more - the Tories are already suggesting getting out of the ECHR and bringing in a 'bill of rights' if they get in at the next Gen. Election!- yeah, right - our human rights will I am sure be scuppered completely if that happens. It would be more than full rights for the rich and the poor/sick/disab led would end up having next to none - they would make sure that this would be the case. Again, its disgraceful and to call this a 'Democracy' is increasingly becoming a total sham.
+9 #1 pusscatsmum 2014-10-10 18:29
I hate the idea of a pre paid card to purchase goods from specified outlets. How on earth will it help to use one. I do not wish my ESA to be replaced with a pre paid card to line the bottom of a supermarket. I know how and where to shop, primarily in butchers, farm shops,markets and stalls outside farms and allotments. Not only cheaper but fresher. Where are our human rights and dignity gone to, surely this will not happen, however I can see a deal already being done on the cards between the leading supermarkets and the govt to go ahead and do it. It is so wrong on so many different levels that I cannot begin to list them all as there are so many. Shame on our govt for yet another nail in the coffin to those who need this money as cash and not a card for the wrong places for it to be spent.
Even doing a part pre ayment card, I would not spend more than £20 a month in a supermarket. Dreadful things

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