50,000 signatures reached
To: Damian Green, Work and Pensions Secretary
Re-Think Pre-Paid Benefit Cards
Please scrap your plans to introduce pre-paid benefit cards.
Benefit claimants deserve to live in peace and dignity, not to be treated like criminals or naughty children.
Why is this important?
This plan is ridiculous, degrading and a breach of our human rights.
Not allowing us to have any cash at all is an unwise and unworkable idea, because some things do require cash, e.g. travelling on the bus, buying fresh vegetables and fruit from a farmer's market, using vending machines, using a trolley at the supermarket, buying second-hand clothes from a car boot sale.
The poor often buy second-hand goods in charity shops, car boot sales and Ebay. Many buy books and worksheets for their children, plus toys and Christmas presents, and benefit cards would take all of that away from them. Many parents are desperate for work but cannot find any. Some are so severely unwell or disabled that they are unlikely to ever work at all, even though they want to. Some are financially ruined in family courts while getting divorced. Anyone can fall into it.
Almost 80% of middle class families are greatly helped by their parents and/or grandparents, but not everyone is so lucky.
If, for instance, you were to tell a person who has worked all of their life, but has recently become unemployed through no fault of their own (e.g. redundancy), that they can't even buy a magazine or go for a coffee with a friend, it would be ridiculous, and being told what to do like a naughty child would be degrading. It would also be ridiculous, 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 idea it is, has not said exactly when he intends to push his plans through, and what worries me the most is how far he and the rest of the government intend to dictate to benefit claimants what they can and cannot spend their money on. Just what else, exactly, will the government define as irresponsible spending? Will they tell us that we can't buy a laptop, a t-shirt, an item of stationery or pet food, for instance?
The bottom line is, benefit claimants do not deserve to be treated like criminals or naughty children, especially if they are sick or disabled and/or are doing everything the DWP ask of them. The whole idea needs a lot more thinking through before the government even think about rolling it out, so that benefit claimants can continue to live their lives in peace and dignity.
All of the stereotypes you hear about in the media are rubbish - they are designed to blinker, divide and sway people. Being unemployed is not a crime, therefore we shouldn't be punished for it - we are no less deserving of human rights than those who are lucky enough to have a job.
You can read more about the proposals here: