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Benefits prepaid cards move a step closer

The DWP have published the results of a new study which supports the introduction of prepaid cards for vulnerable benefits claimants.

The DWP carried out a pilot using prepaid cards in Kent. The experiment has been assessed by the Centre for Social and Economic Research at Sheffield Hallam University.

The prepaid cards can be used to withdraw cash and to make payments, set up direct debits and buy items online. Statements and balances can also be checked online.

In the pilot there were no restrictions on what could be purchased using the cards.

The study found that the cards were particularly useful for “people in debt whose benefits were otherwise being swallowed up by overdrafts or credit debt payments in their current bank account.”

The cards also provided “greater financial safety for a few participants who had been exploited by previous or current partners or peers in the past.”

For some claimants, the cards allowed them to buy cheaper products and services online and set up direct debits to reduce costs on utility bills in a way they had not been able to before.

You can download a copy of the full evaluation of prepaid cards report from this link.

Are prepaid cards a good idea or the start of a slippery slope towards preventing claimants decide how they spend their cash? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.


+1 #25 Martin 2016-07-29 22:49
Could we start a petition to boycott the companies buying into this scheme?
#24 Sara 2016-07-20 14:00
It'll start with Addicts/alcohol ics and before you know it be people with 'mild' depression, learning difficulties and people THEY deem vulnerable which is pretty much everyone in the whole world except them of course. They'll love their ability to snoop on our purchases and then the restrictions will kick in.... no smokes, no booze....etc anything that week that is classed as a health hazard or things people on benefits "shouldn't." have because all some people see is a 'dole scrounger' wearing branded trainers they can't afford, and don't know I spent 10 months budgeting and eating porridge to buy them (For my legs good trainers mean all the difference between being able to get around a little and not at all).... it's pandering to the 'tax payers' dislike of people 'getting a free ride' as well...... food stamps here we come :(
+1 #23 Ms E J Garbett 2016-07-19 16:15
Deffinately will not work for me. I have nothing on Direct Debit. Due to the benefits being paid 4 weekly. A 4 weekly pattern of money going in to the bank does not work because D/D got out on a specific day.
I stopped all D/D 6yrs ago after D/D were going out and benefit went in 2 days later. Leaving me with colossal bank charges!!
Another stupid idea not thought out throughly. I am nownsaddled with a Debt Management Plan paying off bank charges, that were not my fault!! :oops: :cry:
+2 #22 Kevin 2016-07-17 05:59
Having had more than 30 years involvement in the benefits system on both a professional basis (25+years) and a personal basis (past 6 years), I would never trust the motives behind a card scheme such as this.

There are two very obvious possibilities and I for one think the DWP is absolutely capable of both.

1) A means of selectively identifying expenditure the government deems "wasteful" so that further cuts to benefit can be "justified". Perhaps the electorate could be given the same access to government expenditure and be able to turn off the taps there? Thought not.

2) A means of accumulating "evidence" of claimant activity that the government considers "inconsistent" with being on benefits related to ill health and/or disability. For example, what happens if a claimant has the temerity to actually take a much needed break and the hotel room cost appears on the account? Just think of the DWP's justification: "The card proves the claimant could travel x-miles to get to a hotel. This 'proves' the claimant is fit for work / doesn't meet the criteria for PIP etc."

Orwell's 1984 starts to look like a model exercise in compassion. I have long since held the view that some of the consequences to some of the polices of all governments since 2008 would have been warmly and smilingly embraced as part of "Action T4" - a Nazi program involving forced assessments with, for those deemed to sick / disabled / feeble / incapacitated, to be shipped off for forced euthanasia.

The only difference I can see is that the latter part isn't yet compulsory although this government plainly couldn't care less about benefit related deaths, let alone the effects on health caused by the enormous amount of stress caused to claimants by the inconsistency of medical assessments.whi ch are compounded by, all too often, poor quality DWP decision making.

Isn't life on benefits such a joy?
+2 #21 cossack 2016-07-14 15:29
Agree with the majority of comments made. My disability is MS and suffer with mobility and balance issues. This doesn't mean I can't budget and pay my bills. I know it might help some people with addictions or mental health problems BUT what the DWP fail to recognise is that 'one size doesn't fit all'. Target the help where needed.
+2 #20 Jeanette 2016-07-14 11:00
I read an article today where the government are going to bring in monitoring of how benefits are spent using an app. I don't know if this is correct or scaremongering but it seems to follow on from having benefits paid on a prepaid card. I understand the benefits are supposed to be used to make things easier for disabled people but, like others here, I have extra heating bills due to cold intolerance and pay on a fixed rate tariff, if I had to change things like this it would just cost more. apart from that the whole thing smacks of singling out disabled people as not being able to run their own lives. There are so many reasons that these ideas are disgusting. How would they distinguish between my spending benefits or my works pension? Apart from everything I can see that this scheme would just be wasting more money that it would save. it again seems the disabled are an easy target and adds more to stigmatising us.
+1 #19 Chrissy 2016-07-14 02:17
I currently pay my fuel on a fixed term contract direct debit for three years, with a pre-paid benefit card, will I still be able to do this?
Same with my internet provider and water authority, plus landlord, all direct debits, will I still be able to do these things using a pre-paid benefit card?
What about my mortgage, will I still be able to pay that by direct debit too?
I would love some help with these questions before I can make up my mind what I think of prepaid benefit cards. thanks in advance, look forward to hearing from you.
+2 #18 Katathome Board 2016-07-13 20:06
I agree with the majority of people posting about this subject. Becoming unemployed/ill/ disabled, doesn't mean we suddenly can't work out our own finances!
It might help a very few, but I'm perfectly capable of arranging direct debits to pay my bills, without needing Big Brother watching what I spend, what I buy, and where from.
It's gone from being a Nanny State, to a real Orwellian nightmare for those of us unfortunate enough to be either unemployed, low paid, or too ill/disabled to work.
HOw much more do they want to humiliate us for things beyond our control? :(
#17 Llewelyn LaVista 2016-07-13 17:34
I have a petition relating to this:

+2 #16 TraceZee 2016-07-13 14:34
The only people I can see it helping are people who can't get D/D bank accounts, people trying to break addiction, those who have got into debt and some victims of fraud even then it should be entirely voluntary and only be for as long as it's needed. It should also be an option for those not on benefits if they need the same help. Then it becomes more universal and more fair. They bang on about helping "hard working people/ families", so they should help working people who face these issues. Debt/ fraud/addiction is not the preserve of benefit claimants!!! Not everywhere has credit unions to help, they seem to be based in big towns and cities only.

Problem is the nasties obsession of demonising all claimants, if it genuinely helps a few they'll be a mind to force it on everyone. I have a flicker of hope that their new leader may be a little different. It is only a tiny flicker though.
+1 #15 Philip Laidlaw 2016-07-13 13:22
Disgusting totalitarian method of tracking where you spend your money, I suspect it will eventually be limited to a handful of expensive stores that the Tories have shares in. :sad:
#14 Samson 2016-07-13 13:19
I would love a prepaid card system. I've been trying to find one to use myself but some have monthly charges and others charge for withdrawing cash and non of them really solve the problem I have: spending money on non-essential items.

I cannot manage my money well and often find myself short for utility bills. So ideally I'd like some card that is only accepted by utility companies or supermarkets ( and preferably won't let you buy non-essential items like alcohol).

Frankly I'd rather not have to deal with money at all. Wish the government could just pay my bills and buy me food!

I would certainly like to have the option to get my benefits paid into a restrictive account. The only other alternative for me would be to get all my money paid to someone else who manages it for me, but I don't know anyone.
+4 #13 Clifford65 2016-07-13 11:24
I understand the principle of the card for people who have drink or drugs problems ...as this would mean the money gets spent on what it is intended for ..the family and not the addictions ...but seriously if we are old enough and mature enough to claim benefits then we should be accountable for what we spend it on ...ditch the card and give help to those who need it most ..
+4 #12 michelle3434 2016-07-13 11:06
Very insulting to suggest everyone needs a card like this and i can just imagine the hatred from some people when they see you produce it. Another method of trying to destroy your dignity and would have a huge impact on people's mental health which of course can then impact on physical health. Total segregation is what this would be.
+3 #11 Anxiety Plus 2016-07-13 10:48
Slippery slope, but, on the other hand, if the claimant "asks for help" in the way of this card, then maybe it will help those, WHO HAVE A CHOICE IN THE DECISION TO HAVE THE CARD...

Personally if I were forced to have a card, I would stand out in the crowd, making me too embarrassed to use it and would force me into a mental decline.......

I handle my money well, and all my outgoings are on direct debit, so rent, water, gas, electric, internet are all paid out before I eat.....that way I won't be made homeless, and won't worry about mounting debts.

I live a frugal life, but at least I'm alive.....
+1 #10 AlexF065 2016-07-13 10:46
it wont work for me i hardly leave the house these days as its so difficultI manage every thing through my online bank account i know when the monies are coming in and pay my DD's accordingly This will only cause me trouble i think
+7 #9 Frogman9 2016-07-09 11:57
Yellow Star on our clothes next......this is a disgraceful way to treat people in 2020.
+5 #8 Blackcat 2016-07-09 00:42
I have autism,just in case.

I see no point in this!

1 Try saving your £2.00 coins
2 Join a Credit Union
3 Put all your 'Shrapnel' on a gift card at the Supermarket.
4 Spread the joy by putting something in the food bank container
+5 #7 angela 2016-07-08 16:29
What next we all have to wear some sort of uniform to use this card and have our own till at the supermarkets so we stand out a bit more .
+5 #6 abigail 2016-07-07 18:15
I fear the thinking behind this might not be benign…i have a card for my direct payments and have struggled with this…and bureaucratic complications that are unnecessary and distressing and disempowering.

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