Benefit claimants deserve to exist in peace and dignity, not to be treated like offenders or unruly teenagers. This idea is absurd, insulting and a violation of our human rights. Not permitting us to have any money at all is a stupid and an unworkable concept, since some things do demand money, e.g. commuting on the bus, purchasing fresh vegetables and fruit from a farmer’s market, using vending devices, using a trolley at the supermarket, purchasing second-hand goods from a car boot sale.
The poor frequently acquire second-hand goods in charity shops, car boot sales and eBay. Many obtain books and worksheets for their kids, plus toys and Christmas gifts, and benefit cards would take all of that away from them.
Many parents are frantic for a job but cannot get any. Some are so seriously ill or disabled that they are unlikely to ever work at all, even though they want to. Some are financially ruined in family courts whilst getting divorced.
Anybody can fall into it.
Nearly 80% of middle-class families are greatly supported by their parents and/or grandparents, however, not everybody is so fortunate. If for example, you were to tell a person who has worked all of their life, but has recently become unemployed through no wrongdoing of their own, e.g. redundancy, that they can’t even purchase a magazine or go for a drink with a friend, it would be laughable, and being told what to do like a wayward child would be degrading.
It would further be ludicrous, and degrading, for them to be dictated to by the government and be told: “You can’t have any cash, you can only spend money in these shops, you can have this but you can’t have that because we say so.”
Iain Duncan-Smith, whose design it is, has not announced precisely when he plans to push his policies through, and what bothers me the most is how far he and the remainder of the government plan to dictate to benefit claimers what they can and cannot spend their money on.
Just what else, precisely, will the government determine as reckless spending? Will they tell us that we can’t buy a laptop, a t-shirt, an article of stationery or pet food, for example?
The bottom line is, benefit claimants do not deserve to be treated like criminals or disobedient kids, particularly if they are sick or disabled and/or are doing all the DWP request of them. The entire concept requires a lot more consideration before the government even consider rolling it out so that the benefit claimant can continue to live their days in peace and dignity.
All of the stereotypes you learn about in the media are nonsense, they are intended to blinker, divide and influence people. Being unemployed is not a sin, therefore we shouldn’t be penalised for it, we are no less deserving of human rights than those who are fortunate enough to have a job.
This is the newest tantalising nostrum from the Conservatives with a move to prepaid benefits cards, a policy intended to narrow the field of personal spending in order to destroy destructive habits and elevate families from poverty through restrictive safeguards.
Of course, the idea that money should be used on necessities is, in principle, a noble one, however, such a linear consideration of need is ethically questionable. Is playing God with the finances of the disadvantaged expected to stop cyclical poverty, or will it simply increase the void that defines social mobility?
The concept is not a novel one. America’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, once and more commonly identified as food stamps, harkens back to 1939, and has recently shifted to electronic benefit transfer cards.
Despite the survival of the system, its critics point out that recipients are more likely to encounter food instability, as well as being unable to use allowances to obtain necessary personal hygiene items. Furthermore, should we be concerned that this will profit big industry?
The funnelling of individual spending will be a benefit for businesses on the recommended list, giving them a vested interest in the programme, an interest that could see them fighting changes if the policy is considered a failure.
When the state makes decisions regarding requirements and enforces it on the defenceless, we create a peasant and benevolent benefactor dichotomy. This is not progressive neither morally sound. The welfare state is a security net to which we all contribute so that if circumstance dictates, we can use it, something those least likely to ever need it conveniently overlook.
When we begin including penal addendums, we miss the sight of the broader problem. The poor are immediately discredited through a parody of recklessness and fecklessness, the undeserving lumpenproletariat in need of improvement through economic restraint.
We have to remember that many are born into deprivation without choice. If we start to make moral compromises over the spending of specific demographics, we should further recognise that the rich are just as capable of bad decision-making and financial error.
Responsible behaviour must be based on example, and, honestly, no one is leading the way here.
Welfare is now a nasty word in this country, and disciplinary methods will simply endorse that feeling in the minds of the people. When we raise our hands and beg for relief, should we surrender our fundamental human rights?
You cannot expect anyone to claw their way out of poverty through personal grit when we denounce their social standing with single diktat. Economic difficulty already restricts opportunity.
When we ban people from normal spending, we formulate a balloon. No one can learn self-determination if they’re not allowed to fail. This is nothing more than snake oil for an anecdotal anecdote. If left unchecked, it will proceed to stratify society.
It lambasts those in need for exogenous circumstances and moves awareness apart from far more damaging financial risks than the rare lesser decadence. If the government is serious about stopping poverty, it should concentrate on developing essential skills, rather than demanding an ethically shonky Pavlovian marvel.