Food Stamps and Smart Cards – Are They Closer Than We Think?

Iain Duncan Smith’s plan to introduce a food stamp style ‘smart card’ scheme for so called ‘troubled’ families may yet just be the tip of the iceberg. It will be impossible to justify the huge and expensive infrastructure that smart cards will require unless they are to be extended far beyond just 120,000 families.

Meanwhile last month the Minister for Welfare Reform Lord Fraud quietly announced a tendering exercise asking High Street banks and pre-pay card providers to design new financial products aimed at helping benefit claimants with ‘budgeting’.

A national roll out of smart cards would see benefits loaded onto prepay cards, meaning the Government will have control on how benefits are spent.  This is intended to prevent ‘troubled families’ from spending benefit money on drugs or alcohol.

The Government has identified 120,000 families who may be moved onto the scheme should IDS get his way, which will require a change in law.  Unfortunately they don’t appear to be able to decide how to classify those troubled families, or whether they even exist.

However the numbers are eventually constructed, the national infrastructure required for a smart card scheme would be huge.  The system would not just have to accommodate food, clothing and household purchases, but also take into account gas, electricity, broadband (essential to claim Universal Credit under new rules), water, rent payments, fines, council tax payments and countless other expenses.  The cards will also need  to accommodate the vast range of debt repayments which many claimants pay out each week to everyone from doorstep lenders to catalogue companies.  Families who owe money to illegal lenders may find themselves especially at risk.

Ian Duncan Smith may not give a shit about claimants, but he certainly cares about energy companies and High Street loan sharks.  Making this scheme attractive to these businesses, who will have to agree to the changes, will cost a lot of money.  It will be impossible to justify this expense for just 120,000 families.  Even odious George Osborne is so sick of paying out for Iain Duncan Smith’s madcap schemes that he’s already tried to sack him once.

According to the Daily Mail, Iain Duncan Smith said at the Tory Party Conference:

“I am looking at the moment at ways in which we could ensure that money we give [benefit claimants] to support their lives is not used to support a certain lifestyle”

At first glance this could be dismissed as pie in the sky thinking from a deluded Secretary of State desperate to get his name in the papers and bask in the glory of the Tory right.  Unfortunately, anyone who has read the draft regulations for Universal Credit will be aware that a combination of savage brutality combined with completely unworkable initiatives is fast becoming the hallmark of welfare policy in the UK.  Much like coppers, just because IDS is stupid, it doesn’t mean he’s not dangerous.

In September Lord Fraud called for companies to tender to deliver budgeting help for people moved onto Universal Credit.  Between £80 and 145 hundred million is to be made available for companies to help claimant’s manage their budgets.  Unlike the current benefits system, Universal Credit will be paid monthly, leading to concerns that desperately low income families will have household finances thrown into chaos by the plans.

Lord Fraud is asking for companies to design products which can be used: “To protect against ‘mis-spending and ensure that essential bills and payments are met payments could be ‘ring-fenced’.”

Fraud also suggests that: “More complex models for this could include additional divisions of money for savings or debt repayments.”

It seems that the DWP are already seriously looking into some form of voluntary spending controls on claimants.  What starts out as voluntary provision in the welfare system rarely stays that way.  Smart cards and government controlled spending may be coming much sooner than we think.

Universal Credit is set to be the most complex and wide ranging change in welfare ever introduced.  Already it is said to be over-budget and behind schedule.  Many aspects of the changes, from how it will manage free school meals to rent payments for Women’s Refuges, have not been fully resolved.

Now Iain Duncan Smith wants to add a whole new system of nanny state spending controls to the scheme, something he has never mentioned before and probably only came up with a fortnight ago.  Whether he gets his way remains to be seen, but his intentions are becoming clear.  Iain Duncan Smith thinks that the state should decide how benefits are spent, no matter what the cost to the tax payer or the families and individuals concerned.

The above pic comes from this site which has a story telling of the stigma of food stamps in the US:

26 responses to “Food Stamps and Smart Cards – Are They Closer Than We Think?

  1. state approved hairdressers for an annual haircut?
    state approved leisure pursuits like an annual trip to the cinema?
    state approved clothing, food?
    why not just microchip all benefit claimants or house in a state controlled Warsaw ghetto

    • “why not just microchip all benefit claimants…”

      It’s coming, Joanna, it’s definitely coming…

      • Agreed. They’ll want to track your every move, ostensibly to prevent you from committing benefit fraud by working cash in hand while claiming benefits or committing crimes while claiming benefits.

        How long before you have to urinate in a jar in front of the work(fare) programme staff to do a drugs test? How long before you are forced to undergo being injected with Sodium Pentothal (truth serum) to make sure you’re telling the truth about your job hunting efforts and your financial and personal situation?

        Just how many more ways of humiliating the unemployed, sick, disabled and the low-paid can IDS come up with?

  2. “state approved” i.e. sub-standard crap

  3. IDS is an out-of-control insane control freak. He must have loved his days in the regiment – having everything planned out for him by other people that he thinks he must enforce that onto the rest of the population.

  4. The only items you will be allowed to purchase are from those companies that the MP’s have shares in. White label goods that do not follow the standards of regular products, or sub-standard will be sold to the people on benefits.

  5. In due course “payment” will move from “money” to “tokens”. We are talking about a complete removal of a person’s autonomy, a denigration to a sub-human class. Welcome to the the “Technological Society” where a “technical” means are used to eradicate the poor and unwanted.

  6. Brave New World
    It Can’t Happen Here
    This is part of their plan. They can’t just announce things….oh no. They’ve learned, the nasty minded evil fuckwits.
    Privatising the NHS.
    Destroying the benefits system.
    A return to Serfdom.
    They own us. We are slaves. We are expendable. We are finished.
    We are dead.

    • Think about it; ~ 4500 people die in the UK EVERY DAY; just doubling your “processing capacity” would eliminate another 1,643625 persons a year. In a “five year term in office” you would have eliminated 8,218,125 and nobody would notice. IBS is really quite cunning.

  7. Pingback: Food Stamps and Smart Cards – Are They Closer Than We Think? | Mental Health, Politics and LGBT issues |

  8. Pingback: Update 3 – DWP, Atos, and Benefits, a Round Up « MADD Suspicions

  9. This doesn’t need a change in the law; it was already written into the welfare reform bill.

    I can’t remember which section now, and wish I had kept note of it, but it’s around 3/4 of the way through at the end of a section. It states that the government reserves the right to pay benefits onto these cards.

    They’ve obviously been planning this for a long while, and of course it’s more money for their mates isn’t it?

    Ironically, it will turn out to be more complicated than any other benefit that has ever been paid in history. It may backfire though as the government will be forced to state how much they think a person needs for food, electric etc, and hopefully this will expose how pitifully low the Universal Credit will be, especially for single jobseekers who even now struggle to exist on just £71 per week.

  10. I figured the scheme was naive when I first read about it (obviously it won’t tackle the causes of addiction, and those affected will merely sell on their food), but then I realised it’s more about the humiliation and the degradation of the poor. It’s cruel and immoral.

    • Dawn, that’s why addictions are called addictions, Dawn. It’s like expecting a smoker to give up their fags overnight; it doesn’t. Anyone who has lived with a smoker will tell you that the very first thing they “budget” for is their fags; they will sit it the cold and dark just so long as they have a pack of fags for company; addicts are going to feed their habit whether by hook or by crook, even if if means coshing an old codger over the head for their Universal Pension. This is nothing more than another cruel and inhumane punishment from that odious cunt Iain Duncan fucking Smith for the crime of being poor.

  11. saintjammyswine

    You workshy bumms are un-fucking-believable! Food stamps will stop you drinking and yourselves to death! Money is a luxury for dolites such as you lot! Get over it!!!!!

    • @ saintjammyswine Fuck Off! Cunt!

    • Interesting. What part of ‘more UC claimants are working than not’ did you not notice?

      I’m more concerned that those of us whose markets include recipients of benefits (look it up, we’re called small local businesses) will be driven under. How much will a licence to operate these cards cost? Example: the machine to check the ID cards cost £3000. I don’t have that lying around.
      Yes, I did have a job, Mr Advisor. But you instigated a cost my margins couldn’t support. Go self-employed to help your numbers? Sorry, sunshine, already spent my redundancy on my last business. Don’t get another one.

  12. @saintstupidfuck – Keep talking like that you illiterate cunt, and one day you’ll get your throat slit.

  13. For the person that says we are Workshy, I beg to differ , worked since left school at the of age 55 find myself unwell , refused ESA / DLA..
    Left with no money , worrying how to pay things and in pain 24/7.
    I wish I could be back out in the workplace but that is not possible for me , instead a computer programme at ATOS has decided I am fit for for work, despite attending a leading Rheumatology hospital in the country who says I am not.
    Already feel like I have lost my dignity , but to be given food stamps would be the last straw for me .

    So you people out there that think that everyone who is asking for help is A WORKSHY BUM, THINK AGAIN.
    I qualified as a STAFF NURSE in 1976 and have worked my butt off for the NHS but at a time when I need some help it is not there .

    Please don’t be so quick to judge.

  14. Looks like its going to get a LOT worse then…”The means test scandal : a scathing exposure 1929-1933″

  15. Pingback: Is Lord Fraud Laying A Debt Trap For Benefit Claimants? | the void

  16. Reblogged this on attempts at living.

  17. Pingback: Benefit Cut in Real Terms, and Rising Housing Costs Squeeze to Hit Hard. « Ipswich Unemployed Action.

  18. Pingback: Sky TV is Damaging Claims Food Stamps MP | the void

  19. Pingback: 2012: A Year of Lies and Blunders at the DWP Part 2 | the void

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s