Watch this space

 

This looks promising. I've just obtained a bit more detail about Conservative MP Alec Shelbrooke's Ten Minute Rule Bill, due for debate at 12.30pm, after question time today (the usual health warning - if there are ministerial statements or urgent questions, they'll come first).

His bill aims to introduce a Welfare Cash Card to encourage responsible spending by benefit claimants, and it mainlines right into the current row over welfare spending - and the strivers vs skivers meme that Conservatives are campaigning on.

The cash card would explicitly prohibit the purchases of luxuries such as cigarettes, alcohol and Sky TV. By 'topping up' a cash card as opposed to making cash payments, the government can ensure that welfare payments are being used for what they are intended; priority purchases such as food, energy, clothing, housing, travel, etc instead.

The objective, I'm told, is to encourage better financial planning as the new benefit, the Universal Credit, which will be paid monthly is phased in, with the aim of re-establishing the idea that benefits are a safety net for people who've fallen on hard times, and that the money paid out should be spent on essentials, not luxuries. It will be interesting to see if Labour oppose this and attempt to force a vote… because this bill takes aim directly at quite a sensitive spot.

And it's also worth remembering that this may not be quite the meaningless ritual combat that these bills led to in previous parliaments - this government has made a bit of a habit of taking up ideas floated by bright backbenchers in adjournment debates and Ten Minute Rule Bills, and putting them into action. The last Budget contained three.

So those interested in the arguments over the benefit culture should watch this space.

 
Mark D'Arcy Article written by Mark D'Arcy Mark D'Arcy Parliamentary correspondent

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  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 29.

    Another right wing anti poor bit of possible Legislation, why not Brand a B on benefit claimants foreheads, carry on like this we will have Ghetto's and we all now where that could lead, people really need to start thinking about Democracy and the rights of the Citizen, erosion of rights = fascism.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 28.

    Drip drip drip,remember we invented the concentration camp!!!!!!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 27.

    tom, why dont you try and find a new job WITHOUT the internet.
    our library closed this year, and our local jobcentre DO NOT provide internet access.

    i hope you fall on desperate times at some point in your life, they you'll understand what its like in the real world.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 26.

    The public shouldn't mistake benefits for 'wages'. Benefits are there to help the unemployed avoid becoming homeless and starving. They are not an annual salary to pay for broadband, cigarettes and christmas presents. For those people unlucky enough to lose their job, whilst we all sympathise that this is difficult you must face reality and accept that you can no longer afford those luxuries.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 25.

    The answers to all these questions are very simple: How do you buy substantial items on credit/monthly instalments? You don't, if you want credit terms then get a job. How do you pay for Internet? You don't, you will find free Internet available at libraries and job centres; if you want your own then get a job and pay for it yourself. Smoking is an addiction? Go see your GP for a prescription.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 24.

    hows this for a scenario, this christmas im out of work, not by choice, but by cutbacks in the NHS (that are not really happening are they dave).
    how would i buy my daughters xmas prezzies on this card?
    also, what about internet, its still classed as an essential, ut to claim JSA i now have to log onto the website every day. how do i pay my internet bill if i cant on the card?
    i could go on....

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 23.

    Not only is this quite distasteful (stigamatising and controlling all receiving benefits because of a few), it's also impractical. How will this work for purchases on credit paid in instalments, often the only way to purchase substantial items. And smoking is an adiction, if help quiting isn't provided then people would find a way around

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 22.

    Another non-story. A blinkered idiot stands up and says something controversial and the ready to be offended jump to it with Pavlovian relish.....

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 21.

    This to me is so dangerous, firstly you give section of society that is being blamed for many of the economic woes of the country an I.D. card and restrict where they can shop and what they can buy. What follows on after this, well I would suggest Alec Shelbrooke read the history on the rise of the Third Reich.
    We fought a war to rid ourselves of the very idea of this sort of discrimination.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 20.

    This will be like shaming 'poor' kids for having to claim free school meals in front of their friends. How about some sort of fabric badge to sew onto our clothes too? If my benefits covered booze I'd be happier but £71 a week doesn't even cover food, 'phone and car (the last 2 needed for job hunting in the 'sticks') let alone my medication or, dare I say, Christmas. Out of touch Tories again.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 19.

    Whilst it sounds at first glance like a reasonable idea, it will require a huge IT system of some kind.....


    ....and we all know how good Govt. is at procuring large, complicated, expensive IT systems......


    ....and retailers would have to sign up to it too......


    ....which begs the question will it pass the UK's Data Protection Act...???

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 18.

    I'm 1 of the minority, I abuse the system & alcohol. I get a form to fill in with applications & other attempts at finding work. I make up answers to get my money, they never check it out. All I see is vacancy for leaflet posting or temp / as & when. They will never beat the underclass, they won't fund training, so build more prisons. We will trade goods on that card for beer, politicians = idiots

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 17.

    Yes I'm sure there are a minority of people who abuse the benefit system as there are people who abuse any system where money is concerned. However, we have a welfare state so that we can protect our fellow citizens who fall upon hard times through no fault of their own. Are we seriously suggesting that we penalise those genuine people in order to stop the cheats?

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 16.

    Benefits SHOULD be a stop gap not a lifestyle! Why should i pay for someone elses sky TV when i can barely afford my own! Reasonable proposal but no doubt the Tories will rush it through!

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 15.

    This bill is not controlling people's right to spend their money how they choose. The money given in welfare did not grow on trees- it has been paid by hard working people giving up a quarter of their years wages. If you want the freedom to spend your own money then go and earn your own money and stop taking mine. I don't want to pay for your cigs, booze and cable TV.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 14.

    where you these people get the money to spend on "luxuries" like booze, good times on the town sky, cable etc, i'm on slightly more than the welfare payments and I can't do these things, and WHY, WHY, WHY, doesn't our human rights come into this???? it works for terrorists! I'm not a prophet, however, i can foresee riots the like that this countries never seen before

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 13.

    This is a typical proposal from a Tory MP who hasn't got a clue how real people live. Why doesn't he just go the whole hog and reopen the workhouses? He could then control benefit spending even more effectively by feeding claimants with gruel and making sure they are kept in their place. Ridiculous? Of course it is but it is only a logical extension of what this stupid MP is proposing.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 12.

    You have to remember this is all about a world called politics not the real one!

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 11.

    Fantastic! At last some common sense. Welfare should be for food, clothing, shelter etc. For those on benefits who don't like the idea the answer is simple- get a job and pay for your own luxuries.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 10.

    I'm not against the idea, as long as people were given a small amount of cash as well. Say you got £71 per week (as you do for JSA at the moment) then I'd have it so you get say £55 on the card and £16 in cash. That would allow for perhaps some luxury spending, without allowing people to blow everything on cigarettes or booze.

 

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