Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Income Management for Liverpool’s Destitute?

Liverpool City Council’s (LCC) Citizen Support Scheme (CSS) will replace Crisis Loans and Community Care grants on the 1st of April 2013. One of the scheme’s proposals is to abolish cash payments in favour of food vouchers and utility pre-pay cards. Liverpool City Council offer no clear justification for abolishing cash payments other than it being part of, what they describe as, “holistic support”.

We see it as control over the poor.

Until April 2013, Crisis Loan and Community Care grant recipients will have the autonomy to purchase the items they require from the stores they choose. The CSS will remove that autonomy and replace it with restricted, and potentially monitored, methods of payment.

The Australian government has been trialing what could be the eventual conclusion of ‘reforms’ to the UK Social Fund: Income Management for the poor. 

Income Management is a policy which "quarantines" 50 – 70 per cent of Centrelink payments onto a BasicsCard. This card can only be used to buy "priority items" at government approved stores.  

Income Management targets people in poverty with punitive measures that encourage the treatment of welfare recipients as feckless, and would fit neatly into the UKGov’s tales of fraud, criminality and disorder allegedly rampant in the districts of Blighty. Personally, we call those tales survival, but it makes no odds to the privileged-in-power intent on wiping out welfare on behalf of their Capitalist chums.

CSS is punitive, demeaning, and a potential precursor to a UK-version of Income Management; we also see similar control measures being put into place in other areas of welfare, particularly relating to disability & back-to-work welfare.

On the 3rd of October 2012, think-tank Demos released statistics from a new poll, sponsored by Mastercard, that alleges a majority “support government control of how people spend benefit payments”. No doubt this think-tank propaganda will be used to justify the creeping introduction of yet more mechanisms to roll back the social contract and pave the way for neo-liberal privatisation.

For what it’s worth, LCC is ‘consulting’ the public on its draft policy. It closes on the 9th of November.

If you're interested in combating Liverpool City Council's proposed Citizens Support Scheme, email

1 comment:

  1. I agree with your comments wholeheartedly. These attempts to control the spending of those on welfare are just an attempt to punish and humiliate. Frankly, we can't even trust that the government would 'approve' stores that would give decent services and products. I hope those in Liverpool manage to fight this and I will be keeping an eye on my local council to see if they try something similar.