Iain Duncan Smith reveals plans for pre-paid benefits cards to prevent "destructive habits" of welfare recipients

Speaking at the Conservative Party Conference, Iain Duncan Smith has announced plans to test the use of pre-paid benefit smart cards to prevent claimants "destructive habits."

Claudia Wood, chief executive of Demos, tole The Guardian that the policy was “ethically questionable and practically and technologically challenging,” suggesting that the pilot should be careful to involve only those who want an additional safety net. The Independant reports that the pre-paid card will be tested in a small voluntary trial, and fully piloted by the Conservatives if re-elected. 

Iain Duncan Smith outlined his rationale for the move:

“I have long believed that where parents have fallen into a damaging spiral – drug or alcohol addiction, even problem debt, or more – we need to find ways to safeguard them – and more importantly, their families, their children, ensuring their basic needs are met.

“That means benefits paid, I always believe, should go to support the wellbeing of their families not to feed their destructive habits.

“To that end, today I can stand here and announce to you that I am going to start testing prepaid cards onto which we will make benefit payments so that the money they receive is spent on the needs of the family, finally helping I believe to break the cycle of poverty for families on the margins.

“This is a change for those families that we as a Conservative government will be proud of.”