Three councils have begun to issue smart cards for social care recipients to pay for services under the personalised budget agenda. Merton, Nottinghamshire and Bury councils have done deals with Advanced Payment Solutions (APS) to supply the cards. Merton introduced the cards at the beginning of July under a three-year contract …
As long as the 'customer' isn't the one who picks up the charges that APS and the bank charge, I'd be fine with this system for specified social welfare.
Don't be silly.
No matter what, the charges will be paid from the same place the dole comes from: Taxpayer money. They're there whether you get to see them or not. In the latter case it's a virtual increase in payout that the payee doesn't get to see.
Whether it's significant compared to the other overhead of administrating and watching over expenditure is something else. Perhaps an interesting question to ferret out from the open.gov data?
So it is a bank account
It is a bank account, just not the customers bank account - but they can use it... hmm...
When we had the "pensions must be paid into a bank account" hoo-haa I wondered why the post office didn't open a load of bank accounts for everyone and let them empty it every two weeks. It would have kept the pension business with the post-office and allowed them to convert many of the pensioners over time to the idea of leaving some of their money in the account as savings.
On the one hand...
... this sounds like, well, practical, doesn't it?
On the other, how rotten is the retail banking system if some people cannot simply go to a bank and ask the bank to sit on the money until called for? Not at all or only at ruinous expense (for people who don't have much in the first place), it makes little difference. It means that this highly practical system for, well, bankers and their happy clients, isn't quite so practical for some of their clients.
Part of it won't really be the banks' fault, but rule induced. And as rules go naturally some rules are bound to be well-meaning but negative in effect. Part though, is because they're greedy buggers who've forgotten that the core business of caring for other people's money is being trustworthy enough to do so. Now that you practically have to have a bank account to do anything at all this no longer really matters since the "clients" are left bereft of choise and so, well, people are falling through the cracks and need help from outside the banking system to get back up. How sad is that?
Banks don't want customers with no money
Apart from the problems of them closing all the branches people can get to, and the problems of dealing with small amounts of money (you get 19.98 care allowance and the cash machine will let you take out multiples of 20 with a 2.50 charge)
The banks don't want customers who aren't going to buy mortgages, pensions, credit cards, insurance and all the profitable lines.
There used to be a national savings bank at the post office - but these days the idea of a government owned bank is ridiculous
The real benefit
I have known a number of people living on benefits.
Some, with their children, had a reasonable middle class standard of living. All the kids' toys and books were clearly from jumble sales. But you could see that life was quite fair. The children behaves intelligently, busy on their own or would interact.
Other families lived in barely furnished rooms, their children had nothing. The children sat on the floor with their thumbs in their mouths. And the parent(s) smoked continuously.
So if benefit cards can buy anything except fags, brilliant.
The council has set up a monitoring system to ensure that the cards are not abused.
The observations I have made suggest the biggest abusers of care provisioning are the councils themselves.
The monitoring system will only be another means to staff a huge department making for delays of over 4 weeks (it seems to give council's a severe nosebleed to suggest decisions can be taken within days).
What happened to the "Right to a Private Life"?
This will brand recipients of social care as a card-holding sub-class. Has this been considered?
Councils really should ...
look at their blue books, magenta books, any other coloured books flying out from Whitehall or elsewhere and then read articles on human rights that the UK has signed up to.
Should Councils feel that they are unable to uphold UK commitments to human rights they then have a duty to inform Ministers as required.
The UK can then withdraw or otherwise amend its national commitment to human rights
Whitehall mandarins should explain to ministers exactly why they are not upholding UK commitment to human rights.
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