Food Cards already exist and are charged up when applications are made for food grants. As it stands at present, the money charged on them can be spent at supermarkets; must be spent within 3 or 4 days and cannot be used to purchase cigarettes or alcohol.
If, as seems likely, loading a proportion of benefit directly on to a food card is rolled out and applied to all beneficiaries, the consequences are going to be significant additional hardships for many people.
Food grants can be applied for if an unforseen expense such as the cost of taking an injured pet to the vet for treatment – or paying out money due to some other emergency has occured.
In other words, the food grant is a mechanism whereby hunger can be avoided in instances where money for food has had to be used on other things.(Receipts, proof of money in bank, proof of where money was spent etc are required by WINZ.)
Simply put, where the cost of food is ring fenced, there is no financial lee-way to react to life’s unforseen circumstances.
So the pet suffers or dies and the other emergency (whatever it might be) rolls right on over the top of the person on a benefit because they have no room to manouvere; no way to deal to to it or stop it in it’s tracks.
Labour quietly condoning the changes by not confronting them is particularily sickening. Changes to welfare are not about jobs. Changes to welfare are about the very real and immediate effects on the lives of those on a benefit. (Oh, and on 2009 figures, WINZ saving about $81 million on the Special Needs Grants proportion of the over 1 million hardship payments made in that year)