Pre-pay benefit cards, why they worry me

I haven’t written in a while again, no excuses I just haven’t felt in the right mood, so why write something now?  Well all the news of cuts to benefits has been going on for a while, but I see many working people struggling so don’t like to make a fuss, don’t get me wrong I rant and moan to my friends like everyone else but just get on with life, I’m not starving, I have a roof over my head, life isn’t perfect, but then is it for anyone, except maybe the one per centers?

But this week there have been rumours of benefits being given on pre-pay cards in the future, this is worrying, my initial thoughts were of the privacy implications, why should the government be able to track what I buy and where I buy it?  Will they sell this information on too third party companies?  How will they maintain security of the database?  Even if you accept the government should be able to track you (which I strongly disagree with), what about selling the data?  You may think they won’t but this is a goldmine for advertisers and market research companies, the government will not turn down that kind of money.  They will anonymise it no doubt to calm the masses, but anyone should realise this doesn’t work, internet browsers are a prime example, you can turn on ‘do not track’ and turn off cookies but the big companies still know who you are and pretty much where you live too.


Then I realised it was much worse than this, they want to stop you buying ‘luxuries’ with your benefit money, in principle this sounds reasonable, but when you think about it it becomes pretty scary, can you buy Birthday or Christmas presents for friends or family, is this a luxury?  If you only like a certain brand of food but another is cheaper is that a luxury?  Alcohol is obviously a luxury (I don’t actually drink myself), but alcohol is also part of socialising for most people, should they not be able to meet friends and have a drink at the local pub?  Are holidays a luxury too?  Buying music?  You may think I’m being over the top but mentioned in the proposal is pet food, so can we not own pets?  I have pets which I care for very much, they offer companionship, love, something to make the effort to get out of bed for, one of the main reasons I fought so hard to get a wheelchair (which had to be paid for by donations and charity) was so I could take my dog Kara for a walk.  Pets have also been shown to reduce stress, surely it’s cheaper buying pet food than for the NHS to buy extra anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication isn’t it?

The list of reasons why this is a bad idea could fill a book, but I really don’t want to write it, so I’ll mention bedroom tax instead, I don’t have to pay it as there are two people here and we have a two bedroom flat (although we were ‘accidentally’ sent a letter from the council saying we would have our benefits cut), but say I had three bedrooms, why can’t I have this, shouldn’t I be allowed to have friends and family visit and stay with me?  What if I wanted an extra room for my carers to stay in, I don’t particularly like having to let them sit and sleep in my living room, I’d like some privacy, but I’m pretty sure that as they don’t live here I’d have my benefits reduced.

It seems like the government want us to sit in a room day in day out with no reason to go outside, no socialising and no real quality of life, what’s the point of living like that?  You may say get a job then, that’s another issue entirely though, I can’t get a job, no one would ever employ me it’s just not practical, so my options will be have no quality of life or….well I don’t really see any other option.

I don’t like complaining, the state and taxpayer’s money supports me and keeps me alive, I truly am grateful for this, I also feel guilty and it hurts my pride that I can’t pay my own way, but I can’t and there is nothing I, or medical science can do about it.  Despite this I do still feel I deserve to have a life, I give back where I can offering friends, neighbours and family computer advice, volunteering with projects such as NASA World Wind and the SBTF when I can, or even helping friends children pass their GCSE’s, it may not make up for what I suck out of society but I do try.  Then there’s the rest of my family, I’m the only one with a medical condition that stops me working, they all pay taxes, surely that counts for something.

This isn’t just about me being worried about my future though, I’ve spoken to others with medical conditions that mean they rely on benefits, they are good kind people, why should they be treated like this?  Yes there are scroungers, I even know some, but the majority of people on benefits do need them, even government figures put benefit fraud at less than 1%.

6 thoughts on “Pre-pay benefit cards, why they worry me

  • Most amazing post I have read on the benefits issue.

    Pets are therapy. There are charities, even government schemes to fund these initiatives.

    This Government is taking us back to the dark ages.

    Of all the proposals this one has hidden, sinister implications, possibly far beyong what the government intends.

    And what it will do is force people on benefits to cheat. To do cash in hand work, to take out loans they can’t afford to every repay and ridiculous rates of interest.

    This madness has to be stopped.

    Daniel, thank you so much for your personal post and take on this issue.

  • I wonder if the government have any comprehension at all what it’s like to be on benefits? If they hadn’t made a mess of the lending banks money, I would still be working.I feel like the lowest of low being unemployed, not easy getting a job as I’m a single mum of 3 children.I’ve cut back on lots of luxuries, meat ( I rarely buy it now), Christmas (I make jams and chutneys for close family and my kids had books and toys from charity shops), I rarely drink or go out.So what happens if I had decided to have a party? Will my benefits be lowered or worse stopped? Bloody madness!

  • These are all thoughts that I have had too: basically the whole thinking seems to be that anyone on benefits is less than human and just needs to be fed and watered like a plant :( Can you imagine say being a young person in their twenties and ending up on benefits, perhaps because you have a disability or are a carer, and the Government telling you you can’t eat nice food, have a drink, own a pet or go on holiday for the rest of your life. Oh and you should be grateful for the few crumbs that are thrown your way. Very upsetting that people even think like that :(

  • Hi

    A friend sent me your link which is well received. I am an investor in care but work a 7 day week trying to make a difference. Your contribution is of immense value and i note your comments on data etc. I did not write to promote catalyst but i would like to reinforce that i do what i do to help people secure a better quality of life. catalyst will soon become catalyst living which has a methodology that is focused on life enhancement and well being. Society needs trusted relationships and as you say we cant trust the government any more and often commercial organisations and charities for that matter have hidden agenda’s.I DON’T. I will take on board your anxieties and make sure any ‘card’ issues i am involved with are trusted and customer facing.
    kind regards


  • This government is so out of touch. I wrote to Iain Duncan Smith and eventually had to get my MP to write to elicit a reply. This universal credit system to be introduced is a disaster for women. I work with vulnerable women and see that syndrome of “purse to wallet” where money never quite gets to the children it is aimed at. How much worse will this be when folk are asked to manage their money on a monthly basis.

    The idea of profiling how people spend their money is repugnant.

    What are we doing as a society? we will be judged by how we respond to and support those we live in community with. Even if you don”t believe in any kind of God someone somewhere will look back in history and comment on our ethical framework. Seems to me that we are going backwards, not forwards.

    Thanks for really interesting and thought provoking post.

  • Thank you for all your comments and kind words about this post, I feel very strongly that this should not be allowed to happen, I don’t expect the bill to pass, but I do worry that it will give this government ideas and something similar but slightly watered down will be sneaked in. I am amazed at how many people have read this post, I don’t think of myself as a good writer but I guess writing something from the heart has a certain power.

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