IDS’s Benefit Smart Cards: trumping Osborne in the competition for most ridiculous policy idea

Benefit Smart Cards are condescending and out of touch. They also won't make a difference.

Benefit Smart Cards are condescending and out of touch. They also won’t make a difference

I’d hedge a good bet that if I handed Iain Duncan Smith a copy of Orwell’s 1984, he’d fancy it as the doctrine of an ideal state. I say this because right now, he’s almost trying to re-enact it.

The latest laughable nostrum to come out of this Tory conference – until you realise that they’re generally serious, and then become extremely worried – is Iain Duncan Smith’s proposal for prepaid benefit cards: a system that would limit spending to the bare essentials in order to eradicate the ‘destructive habits’ of individuals.

Kudos to him for believing that money should be spent on necessities, but that’s nothing compared to actually enforcing it. Instead, not only is it incredibly condescending and out of touch, but it will also make absolutely no difference.

Firstly, what is to stop someone from selling these ‘necessities’ to fund a habit? Secondly, what are these ‘necessities’? Do personal hygiene products fall under them? What about a school trip for your child? And if the poor must have their spending limited, then why not have MP’s expenses loaded onto a similar card?

You’d have to call Squealer in to patch those holes. The problem here is that the likes of Duncan Smith stigmatise all those who claim benefits when, in reality, many are hardworking people who his government have made generally worse off.

What is most shocking is that, on the same day the chancellor George Osbourne nonsensically pledged to cut the compensation intended to soften the blow of the pitiful annual wage increase he’s frozen, Big Brother came along and added those still lucky to get any help will be watched over because, as we all know, you’re clearly reckless and can’t be trusted with money.

I actually believe that they’re so out of touch they really think they’ve created thousands and thousands of jobs and that anyone who isn’t in one is either too lazy or drunk – or both.

In all seriousness though, deprivation isn’t a choice, and we must remember that many are born into it. Our government needs to focus on drawing those people out of such by getting them into stable work and on a decent salary – by teaching them valid skills and implementing a meaningful minimum wage that actually compliments the living one.

Unless you do that, you cannot expect someone to claw their way out of financial hardship if they’re continually vilified and labeled, and the gap between rich and poor will only widen. Belittling only exasperates the problem

So, onto the next contender in the competition for who can come up with the most ridiculous policy idea…

Luke Nightingale is a freelance journalist and founding editor of The Looking Glass Liverpool. He also blogs

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19 Responses to “IDS’s Benefit Smart Cards: trumping Osborne in the competition for most ridiculous policy idea”

  1. GhostofJimMorrison

    Didn’t get past the first paragraph. Puerile undergraduate clickbait hysteria. This is a sensible move which has the backing of the majority of both Tory and Labour voters. By the way, if they’re running a competition for who can come up with the most banal, faux lefty guff then this must surely win.

  2. JoeDM

    Prepaid ‘Benefits Card’ is an excellent idea. And make sure it cannot be used for buying fags or booze.

  3. Human

    My sick mother is a Mormon treating her as a drunken gambling smoking drug addict is insane a bit like most who agree with the benefit card. It’s your safety net too! you know that right? Lose your job or fall ill then you also will be subject to this inhumanity.

  4. nita

    Some of you make me roar,…There are millions out of work ,and only a few hundred thousand jobs..did this government half the nurses, firemen, police, and so on …
    yes they did..Anyone would think you can wake up one morning and say oh I will go and be a firemen today.or maybe get a job as a police officer..most jobs are zero hours..where are all these jobs you can just go and get..stop the expenses for mps.the scroungers.Taxpayers want to look up where there money really goes it certainly is not on the unemployed

  5. nita

    Where as my post gone

  6. theProle

    >I actually believe that they’re so out of touch they really think they’ve created thousands and thousands of jobs and that anyone who isn’t in one is either too lazy or drunk – or both.

    My employer can’t get decent staff for love or money, despite paying well, and being alright to work for. The lads we get and return quickly to the unemployment pool are invariably either lazy or have other issues (last one wasn’t drink, it was drugs).

    The more lads we recruit and then sack as useless, the more convinced I become that almost anyone unemployed for more than a few week in our bit of the Midlands is suffering a self inflicted wound.

  7. GhostofJimMorrison

    But politicians and middle class faux lefty journalists aren’t interested in, you know, reality.

  8. Tezza

    Yes let them spend it on booze and fags. That will break their welfare dependency cycle!

    Also the most ‘1984 Big Brother’ aspect is the socialist welfare state which stifles freedom.

  9. Tim Nuttall

    Or bus fare, or trips out, or household repairs, or spending time with friends, transport to see family, or transport to job interviews or extra rent housing benefit doesn’t quite cover, or bills etc. etc. etc. However Walmart will be happy that their Asda have got the contract, filling up their wallets with all that tax money (ironic since they have a history of avoiding it themselves).

  10. Tim Nuttall

    That’s because he an idiot who can’t vet his staff properly in interviews. That’s his problem.

  11. Guest

    Keep yelling that your reality and your insistence on poverty is the only one allowed.

  12. Guest

    So people being alive “stifles freedom”. Oh wait, they could enslave themselves to you otherwise. Feedom!

    Keep spewing hate at people who can’t afford decent shelter and food.

  13. Guest

    Yea, got to make sure a few supermarkets get all the cash. And that people need to spend extra on transport to shop. And that they can’t get discounts.

    Gotta sweep up more cash for you, and slash people’s food intake. All for your big-brother hypermoralism, the big state you in fact love.

  14. Guest

    So you didn’t read the article, but are spewing hate at it anyway, as you call big brother morality imposed on the poor for your own profits, never mind it reduces the food they can afford, because you’re quite happy with poverty and starvation.

    Then you make up lies about polls which, and make up a competion for which you scream “WINNAR” and charge every time a left wing idea is mentioned.

  15. Leon Wolfeson

    Certainly sounds like it. That, or he’s expecting people to work silly hours for low pay, which I see all the freaking time. But no, they’re “lazy”.

  16. roy

    if they do this they will be lots of riots as people on benefit living in private property’s not council does not get all the rent paid by and they need to put money towards there rent

  17. joanna

    plus if you haven’t got a degree, you have zero chance!

  18. socialist

    Your comments are the real guff you moron

  19. socialist


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