Alec Shelbrooke, the non-entity behind the private members bill to launch a food stamps style scheme in the UK has made the astonishing claim that Sky Television is a ‘luxury item’ which is often ‘damaging’
In a move which could close every laundrette, market stall or cheap take away food outlet in working class areas, Shelbrooke wants smart cards for claimants, designed to control how money is spent. Speaking in Parliament Shelbrooke claimed:
“The introduction of a welfare cash card on which benefits would be paid would enable claimants to make only priority purchases such as food, clothing, energy, travel and housing. The purchase of luxury goods such as cigarettes, alcohol, Sky television and gambling would be prohibited. When hard-working families up and down the country are forced to cut back on such non-essential, desirable and often damaging items—NEDD items, as I call them—it is right that taxpayer-funded benefits should be used to fund only essential purchases.”
This flies in the face of changes proposed under Universal Credit. Iain Duncan Smith has insisted on Direct Payments under the new benefit regime meaning even claimants who may have drug or alcohol dependencies will no longer be able to have rent paid direct to landlords. With no plans to allow money for broadband or internet cafes in Shelbrooke’s plans, this will also mean the new ‘digital by default’ welfare state would be impossible to access.
So whilst this bill is unlikely to become law it does reveal the direction of travel amongst some in the Tory party. There have long been calls from the swivel-eyed Tory right to implement some form of food stamps scheme for claimants.
Earlier in the year Iain Duncan Smith said he was concerned that claimants who have faced benefit sanctions, and are living on hardship payment of around £40 a week, are frittering the money away on holidays and nights out – a statement so breathtakingly out of touch it’s difficult to know how to respond.
The DWP increasingly talk of benefit cuts as ‘incentives’, in the belief that driving claimants into ever deeper poverty will ‘encourage’ them to miraculously find a job. Speaking in front of the Public Accounts Committee this week, the chief DWP Civil Servant, Robert Devereux, said he couldn’t predict whether the upcoming changes to Housing Benefits would lead to increased child poverty. His bizarre claim was that single parents whose benefits no longer meet their rent may simply go out and pick up a couple of hours work to compensate.
The fucking clown thinks being poor is like Eastenders. All a struggling single mum needs to do is chat up Phil Mitchell a bit and she’ll get a couple of shifts down the Queen Vic to tide ‘er over.
That these clueless wankers think they know anything about how those with the very least live is a chilling thought as they run rampant with the welfare state. Forcing people already poor into even direr poverty is enforced unemployment, not an incentive to find work.
Stamps, haircuts, laundry, toiletries, smart clothes, broadband, stationary, fares, newspapers, telephones, and most importantly heating, lighting and a home, are all pretty big fucking requirements for those looking for work. They all cost money. When parents are dragging kids across town to stand in line at the nearest foodbank they aren’t out looking for jobs. When people slip into depression, ill health, malnutrition, homelessness, and yes even addiction, this does not help motivate them to find work.
Far from incentivising people to look for non-existent jobs, this Government is punishing them with DWP enforced poverty for life. They can’t see that because they have no concept of what it means to be poor. They don’t know what it means to shop around in markets and pound shops in an effort to make a few pounds last till the end of the week – something that would be impossible under the smart card scheme. They don’t understand that if you’re skint, hungry and the leccy meter is about to run out then a bag of chips is probably the best chance available of getting a hot dinner
Cutting off cash to claimants is cutting off dignity, hope and a chance to participate in life itself. Every hour of everyday instead becomes about finding the next quid, not trying to find a way out of the situation. This is the real poverty trap, and it is a desperate place to be.
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