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AIBU to be worried - Reintroducing the Truck System for the unemployed in the UK

(387 Posts)
nickymanchester Sun 10-Jul-16 19:17:34

It has been reported that the UK government is starting a small trial in Manchester to pay (what I presume is) Job Seekers Allowance to people in a brand new blockchain currency called "GovCoin" - similar to BitCoin.

And that what this "money" is spent on will be tracked by the government - initially, the tracking will be on a "voluntary" basis.

So instead of actually paying real money in to a person's bank account they will now provide them with a crypto-currency on their mobile phone which can only be used in certain retailers and where the government will be tracking what the money is spent on. I can well imagine where this will lead.

One of the main backers of this is Lord Hunt, who is the Minister for "Welfare Reform" - boy does that phrase ever put the fear of god into me. As an aside, Lord Hunt was the government minister who, in 2014, said that disabled people were "not worth" the minimum wage. He is also the person behind the move to Universal Credit that, while it may have very laudable aims in theory, in practice it has been a nightmare for many of the people on the receiving end of it.

This is a quote from one of the sources:-

GovCoin Systems tests blockchain-based platform for social welfare payments in UK

Speaking at the Payments Innovation Conference 2016 on 4 July, Minister for Welfare Reform at the Department for Work and Pensions Lord Freud highlighted the ongoing trial saying:

We have been working with GovCoin Systems (and their partners, Barclays, RWE npower and University College London) for this trial. Claimants are using an app on their phones through which they are receiving and spending their benefit payments. With their consent, their transactions are being recorded on a distributed ledger to support their financial management.

Jeremy Wilson, Vice Chairman, Corporate Banking at Barclays, explained that the initiative focuses on adding an additional layer of richer data and identity onto payments, so that a deeper and more effective relationship can be established between the government and claimants.

There are many other sites reporting this as well which you can find through googling them, for example:-

So why the title of this post and why my concern? Well, at school, one of the A levels I studied was history and a major part of that was the Economic & Social History of Britain in the 18th and 19th Centuries (the other part was Britain and Her Relations with the World 1914-1945, not that anyone's interested). Anyway, the Truck System was an infamous form of payments that became widespread in the UK and led to a great deal of abuse.

While, currently, these are just trials that are happening at the moment, I really do see the awful potential to become a fully fledged Truck System where the state monitors exactly what unemployed people are spending their money on, where they spend it and eventually will be able to control these things. This bit is really scary:-

so that a deeper and more effective relationship can be established between the government and claimants.

AIBU to worry about where this might lead or is it just an example of how new technologies can help young unemployed people so that they don't have to worry about pesky little things like actual having some cash in their hand but have to have pay for a mobile phone in order to access their benefits?

IonaNE Sun 10-Jul-16 19:22:04

Or it might be an incentive to actually get a job, and earn money that they don't have to account for as to what they spend it on?

QueenOfTheWhiteWalkers Sun 10-Jul-16 19:24:49

Sounds like a back door way of bringing in a modern workhouse scheme!

And how the hell would it work for things like paying your bills, or paying for school trips etc? hmm

Fucking scary, as someone on benefits this scares the shit out of me.

But with a Tory government in place for the next 4 years, can we expect anything less? angry

RufusTheReindeer Sun 10-Jul-16 19:26:10


That is absolutely dreadful

sepa Sun 10-Jul-16 19:27:49

It depends if it will make people think about their spending. I know of a few people who are unemployed and spend money on fags and booze instead of making sure their kids eat properly. If it stops this then maybe it's a good thing.
I suppose the trial will see IF people agree to take part as its only voluntary at the moment...

Just5minswithDacre Sun 10-Jul-16 19:28:39

Is this the cards? Or instead of the cards? angry

sepa Sun 10-Jul-16 19:28:57

Obviously my example above is only a few people. I also know people who receive benifits and use them wisely

PlaceMarkingforJames Sun 10-Jul-16 19:31:40


IAmNotAMindReader Sun 10-Jul-16 19:31:44

I would be worried as to how this would also tie into universal credit. Its all very well saying it may act as an incentive for people to get a job how about those who already have jobs but just can't get one for whatever reason that doesn't need to be topped up with universal credit?

There are many things that would make this a disadvantage. For example travelling costs. Will a Shell garage take them so you can top up on your way to work? Will your local car dealer take them as payment for a car? Will you be able to obtain credit facilities if you are in receipt of them?

I can see where this can be open to abuse. Just about every system of employment where the workers/unemployed had to use certain shops or be paid in a certain way was abused and the people who needed the money most were the ones who ended up screwed over the most. The bosses and shops involved profited massively while at the same time claiming their prices had to be higher due to the costs involved in administering the system.

JasperDamerel Sun 10-Jul-16 19:31:44

And it will presumably mean that people on JSA can't buy their clothes in charity shops or possibly even on eBay, can't buy food at the market etc so that just getting by becomes even harder and more time consuming and expensive.

LineyReborn Sun 10-Jul-16 19:31:54

So a mobile phone with credit on it will be compulsory? Bloody barking.

Kennington Sun 10-Jul-16 19:32:29

Apparently this is what they do in Australia and parts of the U.S. they probably copied it directly.
I don't like it but I imagine it will be popular.

Claraoswald36 Sun 10-Jul-16 19:32:35

If this is isolated to jsa and not esa/is all the other benefits I'm
Not sure I see the problem. Jsa is supposed to be a short term solution between jobs. Not a lifestyle choice.

nickymanchester Sun 10-Jul-16 19:32:44


And how the hell would it work for things like paying your bills

One of the backers of the trial is Npower - so I guess that people on the trial will have to swap to them for their gas and electricity.

That is one of the reasons I mentioned the Truck System - you don't a choice as to who you pay for gas and electricity

Highlandfling80 Sun 10-Jul-16 19:32:57

Yanbu. Wonder how many people on jsa can even afford a mobile phone.

RedHareWithBlondeHair Sun 10-Jul-16 19:33:16

I can see both sides of the argument tbh. I think it needs close monitoring and must be scrutinised. That said, I also think benefits has become a lifestyle choice for some and this needs addressing.

fanofthevoid Sun 10-Jul-16 19:33:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

IAmNotAMindReader Sun 10-Jul-16 19:33:45

How can it not apply to other benefits when everything will eventually be moved over to Universal Credit?

Just5minswithDacre Sun 10-Jul-16 19:33:51

I would be worried as to how this would also tie into universal credit

Yes. Really sinister for millions of people if/when it's rolled out.

RedHareWithBlondeHair Sun 10-Jul-16 19:34:35

Ken Do you mean similar to the food stamps in the US?

trufflesnout Sun 10-Jul-16 19:35:05

Iona you can incentivise people to get a job all you want, but they won't be able to act on that incentive unless there are actually jobs for them to fill.

Highlandfling80 Sun 10-Jul-16 19:36:11

That fine if you are employable. Try being an undernourished 62 year old with mild learning difficulties who wants to work but cannot find suitable work.

Just5minswithDacre Sun 10-Jul-16 19:38:21

Where's pausing?

She railed heroically against these plans.

Pearlman Sun 10-Jul-16 19:47:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

megletthesecond Sun 10-Jul-16 19:49:42


And wouldn't it open up a massive black market selling things for hard cash?

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