Socialist Worker

Tories want payment cards to stigmatise the poor

Issue No. 2423

 The Tories used their conference this week to propose more nasty attacks on poor people. 

One was a plan to pay benefits through prepaid cards. 

The Tories assured us this would help poor people because it would stop them spending money on drugs, alcohol and gambling.

They have forced a similar scheme on asylum seekers already.

Like every Tory policy, the real beneficiary is business.

The cards would only be valid in “certain places”—presumably big supermarkets with the infrastructure necessary to manage the scheme. They would likely be run by a credit card company, which would rake in money from the contract.

This isn’t a new idea and may never be introduced.  But talking about them helps the Tories push their snobby assumptions about working class people.

It’s estimated that one in 25 working age people who claim benefits have an alcohol problem. That means 24 out of 25 don’t.

An estimated one in 15 has an unspecified “drug addiction”—so 14 out of 15 don’t. 

But the Tories want us to see benefit claimants as drug addicts and alcoholics responsible for their own poverty.

This helps justify their cuts in benefits. 

In reality attacks on wages, jobs and benefits from the Tories and their boss mates are the real problem. 

And putting benefit claimants at the mercy of big supermarkets and credit card firms won’t get them out of poverty.

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