Yet again the 'dead-hand' of unintended consequences may be at the helm of Britain's ship of state. In a piece in the Telegraph this week, a worrying example of upperclasshole thinking has surfaced.
Iain Duncan Smith (IDS)has asked his officials to see if so-called ‘problem’ families should receive their welfare payments on smart cards, rather than in cash.
The cards would only be able to pay for “priority” items such as food, housing, clothing, education and health care.
The Work and Pensions secretary wants to stop parents who are alcoholics or who are on drugs from using welfare payments to fuel their addictions.
The team of civil servants in his department have been asked to come up with proposals by the end of this month.
However the Government cannot currently stipulate how people spend their benefits money and the law would need to be changed to do so for certain groups.
He (IDS)said: “I am looking at the moment at ways in which we could ensure that money we give them to support their lives is not used to support a certain lifestyle."It's not for me to say whether the '(un)deserving poor' deserve a drink or not, one may see this as a totally benign measure to protect the children of disadvantaged "problem families" … but what it is for me to say is that this is just the latest salvo in the "war on alcohol" that is being waged in this country through alcohol's continued demonisation by the 'worthy few'.
At which point does the policy stop? Will the next step be for anyone receiving any state benefit be subject to this form of creeping prohibition? Those in receipt of tax credits? After that, students, perhaps? After all they will be receiving the largesse of the state in the form of their student loan, that until they reach a certain level of salary remains unpaid. Will graduates only be able to consume alcohol when they have paid their loans off? How about pensioners?
What about all those pesky public servants … such as the nuMPties themselves? Will they be forced to give up alcohol as they are paid from the public purse? (I feel sure it would stop just short of them somehow …)
I suspect that even "Conservative Home" didn't bank on this gem of a "bold step"...
Ho hum off for a pint, whilst it's still legal …
Updated, 19/12/12 ... is the idea gaining traction with Alec Shelbrooke, who has drafted a Bill that would change the law to allow welfare payments to be made on a new “welfare cash card” whose use could be restricted by the Government:
"Introducing a welfare cash card on which benefits will be paid, claimants will only be able to make priority payments such as food, clothing, energy, travel and housing. The purchase of luxury goods such as cigarettes, alcohol, Sky television and gambling will be prohibited”Just one more arrow in the quiver of those who continue to demonise alcohol ... just call me Cassandra ...