‘Ten Reasons to Hate the Welfare Cash Card’ ~ A direct attack on equality, dignity and human freedom

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Dr Simon DuffyDr Simon Duffy

Director of The Centre for Welfare Reform

Posted: 08/02/2013 

In one of the strangest political alliances of our time Alec Shelbrooke MP and the ‘think tank’ Demos (in a project sponsored by Mastercard!) propose that people on benefits should be forced to use a special card that can only be used for expenditure approved by the state – the Welfare Cash Card:

There are lots of reasons to loathe this idea, here are just ten:

  1. Undignified – No society has eradicated unemployment; systems of income security are a necessary feature of all modern societies. A decent society seeks to reduce – not to increase – social stigma. But presenting your ‘special’ card, having it turned away or having it run out of credit in the shop will all damage your social status.
  2. Costly – We are told we don’t have enough money to provide the poorest with a decent income, so how come we have enough money to set up a state-controlled debit card?
  3. Damaging – when people feel stigmatised their mental health suffers, this then leads to other (more expensive) social problems.
  4. Intrusive – What will the government do with this information? The claim is this will help build trust in the poor by showing that they don’t ‘waste money.’ But inevitably this will open the door to further unjustified attacks on the lifestyle of the poor each time the government’s report on ‘Lifestyles of the Poor and Disabled’ is published.
  5. Won’t work – Most teenage boy knows how to get cigarettes and alcohol even when it’s illegal. There is no way a Welfare Cash Card will stop people swapping goods or services for a beer or a fag.
  6. Contradicts human rights – Article One of the Declaration of Human Rights says “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” The Welfare Cash Card is a direct attack on equality, dignity and human freedom.
  7. Inconsistent – The government scrapped the Identity Card but would now create a special identity card – for everyone (except those who are over 65 and the wealthy who have just lost child benefit).
  8. Deepens poverty – Electronic cards create new costs for retailers who will then be tempted to create cash discounts or to increase the cost of purchases ‘on the card.’
  9. Increases hate crime – Like a yellow star on your sleeve, bearing the Welfare Cash Card will further mark some people out to be the subject of prejudice, abuse and attack.
  10. It’s just not British – I can’t imagine anything more damaging to the best of our national traditions, beliefs and culture. This is the policy of a totalitarian state, not the land of the Magna Carta.

When we set up The Centre for Welfare Reform as an antidote to partisan and unimaginative thinking about the welfare state I never realised that we would have to engage with ideas quite as dim-witted as this one. I pray that the Welfare Cash Card is seen for the shameful ploy it is. 

Follow Dr Simon Duffy on Twitter: www.twitter.com/simonjduffy


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15 thoughts on “‘Ten Reasons to Hate the Welfare Cash Card’ ~ A direct attack on equality, dignity and human freedom

  1. Anonymous says:

    It may also cause difficulties paying at smaller shops, like corner shops which may be the only ones accessible to people with mobility difficulties.

  2. Boadacia! says:

    I expect ATOS will open their own approved shops, with £5.00 petits pains de pain et gruau and loads of lovely investments in the new venture by certain unmentionable slime.

    I think this is an excellent idea for the politico-rats on benefits in Westminster, to aleve us all having to pay for their flat-flipping, and the general mismanagement of all that money we give them, not to mention of course, – all that they steal!

  3. jeffery davies says:

    another kick for those on benefits 10percent given to those who got deep pockets must be his mates again applying for this roll jeff3

  4. Mike Caics says:

    They prepare the ground for a war that they will not see coming. For when the ‘enemy’ seems completely overwhelmed and controlled by all manner of factors – that, surely is the moment to fear it the most.. To paraphrase Sun Tzu – ‘The Art of War’ – Beware the Army that marches ‘for a cause’ – for they are inexhaustible!

  5. Albert says:

    I knew there was something behind all this horse meat. Obviously designd or the new welfare cards, just some idiot sent some to the shops before the cards were ready.

  6. Steven Goodman says:

    Firstly I cannot see it being workable. I am not sure how much I should take this threat seriously. As a political tool its extreme and against human rights.

    Which Makes me alert for the introduction of their intended plan that will be their compromise and seem less extreme than the proposed plan. Yet still be an extreme in comparison


    The marvelous thing about cash cards is that they can be cloned! It does not matter how much thought goes into the security, there is always some one who can circumvent it.
    Banks have the money to pursue the criminals who abuse atms and clone. Think of the chaos that will ensue when we get welfare cash cards.
    Food stores will have numerous hits and will not have the cash or technology to pursue the cloned cards. It will be a free for all and the persons wronged by the DWP wont give a damn…….

  8. Boadacia! says:

    Supposedly we’ll only be allowed to shop in Lidl or Aldi’s? Deductions if one uses a food bank. Maybe wooden clogs from Clarks? What absolute shits we have in Westminster.


    Have the government seriously considered the mandatory supply of horse meat products for the poor and disabled?
    While the toffs feast on venison we could eat Mr ed.
    Our welfare cards could be programmed to trigger an alarm at the till if we tried to eat food that was only intended for the wealthier and able bodied in society.
    Surely we could be served after dark, around the back of the stores where ordinary, good people would not have to cast eyes upon us. Any rotting meat or vegetables or out of date food could be sold to us at a premium, therefore negating the unnecessary rubbish collections.
    Any of us forced from our homes could live in skips and be branded on the forehead and, and, and……………
    And as for ALEC SHELBROOKE, the insignificant piece of shit……

  10. Deborah Kean says:

    These have been brought in in this part of the world, first in Australia in the middle of last year, then here in New Zealand (although here, they’re “just” for teenagers. (For now that is – in time they will spread of course.)
    Scary stuff!

  11. GEOFF REYNOLDS says:

    To put it in lay mans terms, anyone who pokes their head above the parapet is asking to get their heads blown off….
    Believe me, or believe me not, soon one of the bastards will get their heads blasted to buggery.
    Time is on our side, every step they take is an indication of the hatred toward the lowest in society.
    The meek shall inherit the earth….
    Religion is not a part of me, but build a system that only a fool can use and only a fool will use it!
    They are going to be the stepping stone of their own downfall, the seeds are sown….
    Reap what you sow you sad bastards!

  12. Boadacia! says:

    Stay calm and keep resolve all, as we know it’s not the first time these Tory Daleks have burned their own soulless organs, and remember how long they were in/on the dark-side of politics from Thatcher’s days. No one voted them in this time, but a weakling New Cloaked Labory Party gave them the opportunity to scheme with treacherous Liberals, to crawl back in.

    Our time will come.

  13. FrankieP says:

    “expenditure approved by the state” Hmm…

    I foresee a headline that reads: “Disabled diabetic dies in street after failing to buy chocolate with a welfare card.”

    I just hope it isn’t me.

  14. Stephen Jewell says:

    To pay my bills and direct debits I need to be able to vary my expenditure on food and power needs, some weeks I stock up with food and power so that I can then pay regular bills, spending less on food and using what is in the freezer and putting less electric on the key because I have managed to store a bit of credit on the meter on subsequent weeks. To do this I need cash, and the flexibility to, some weeks rob Peter to pay Paul.
    If the people coming up with these ideas had to manage on benefit with no access to savings or credit, they would understand this!

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