In which I agree with Zoe Williams

Dear me, I need to go have a little lie down.

I\’m not sure that I agree with her reasoning but I do with her conclusion.

Paying benefits on a card not in cash is a nasty, vicious thing to do. And we shouldn\’t do it.

Yes, I know, a certain political party favours this but so what? We agree that we should leave the EU which is enough to bind us together over other disagreements.

7 thoughts on “In which I agree with Zoe Williams”

  1. Surreptitious Evil

    Even a stopped clock is right twice a day? Unreliable as a clock, but occasionally not erroneous.

    Anyway – paying benefits on a card is evil if the card is identifiable (unless that benefit is supposed to be ring-fenced – housing benefit, say. Note that ‘not actually evil’ is not the same as ‘the right thing to do’.)

    Of course, paying them on a non-identifiable card is merely silly. As the banks currently provide those without charge to the public purse, why spend money duplicating an existing system?

  2. Zoe hasn’t mentioned it, because y’know, even when she’s right she doesn’t get economics – but this insane plan also costs about 20% more than giving money to poor people. With the sole benefit that people who are nasty vindictive bastards get to have a bit of a wank.

  3. Let’s get one bit straight – this proposal is only in relation to “crisis loans” for a specific purpose. NOT for benefit entitlements or any other general income.
    So some councils are saying “We want to be sure that our money is being used for the purpose for which it is intended.”
    This could be interpreted as “We don’t trust you to be sensible because you’ve spent all your income without buying food” or equally “We’ve got the district auditor on our backs and he/she demands we prove that the loan has been spent on food”
    Zoe Williams is attacking a straw man in order to get an anti-Tory headline (and how many of those councils planning to issue vouchers are Labour-controlled anyhow?)
    A generation or so ago, the TUC was claiming a main argument for paying workers on Thursday was so that the pay-packet went home and the wife got some to spend on food instead of it being spent in the pub on Friday night before the man got home. Now a *female* Guardian writer says that you must not do anything to stop a “crisis loan” for food being spent on booze. Presumably like most Guardian writers she comes from a sufficiently well-off background not to understand that kids can go hungry if too much is spent on booze or gambling.

  4. If the object of the benefit system is to help those on less than some arbitrary percentage of average pay, which is I believe official policy, then indeed this scheme is wrong- as also must be ringfencing any benefits (a person might prefer to live in a hovel and spend his housing benefit elsewhere).
    If the object of the benefit system is to enable people to buy necessities, then it is reasonable to insist that the money should be spent on necessities.
    Those campaigning for higher benefits are not above quoting the price of alleged necessities to promote their cause- those campaigning for lower benefits are entitled to do likewise.
    Whether it is morally superior to campaign for the poor to be helped by compelling other people to pay, or whether those who wish to keep their own money for their own purposes are in the right is another question.

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