Protest The Council’s Decision To Make Crisis Grants Only Spendable At ASDA – Sunday 19th May

Kings Heath ASDA

Activists from the Slaney Street blog have called a demonstration at Kings Heath ASDA on Sunday 19th may against the council’s decision to pay crisis grants – the replacement for the Social Fund Crisis Loans scrapped by the ConDem coalition – a pre-paid card usable only at ASDA.

2pm Sunday 19th May
ASDA, Kings Heath High Street, B14.
Join the Facebook event
Kings Heath High Street is step free and accessible toilets are available at Kings Heath Library and various restaurants/pubs along the high street.

On April 1st as part of the welfare reform bill, the coalition government scrapped crisis loans – small short term loans that people receiving or waiting for benefits could get in an emergency (including being a victim of crime) to pay towards essentials such as food or heating (including boiler repairs) and many other items. Crisis loans were interest free and paid back out of future benefits. The scheme was more or less cost-neutral as everyone paid back the loans, but was scrapped and a smaller sum of money handed over to councils to use as they chose.

Many councils have adopted voucher schemes of one kind or another and some have used the money to fund foodbanks. In Birmingham, they decided to pay the money out as grants – an improvement on the old system – but that these will be in the form of pre-paid cards usuable only at ASDA, and therefore only on a limited range of items in a very few places. Scotland and Wales have both moved to a grant system which can be paid in money useable anywhere on essential items.

Johnny Void summed up the issue with paying vouchers:

This ignores the reality of poverty for millions in the UK today, whose chief concern is keeping pre-pay electricity and gas meters topped up enough to keep the lights and heating on. A bag of food bank pasta is of little use if you can’t boil water.

Birmingham City Council have decided to hand over £6.1m of our money to ASDA rather than allow claimants to spend it in local shops and the markets. In doing so they have made life harder for claimants who now cannot buy many of the essential items they used to be able to, and unless they happen to live close to one of the seven ASDAs in Birmingham, they face long walks of up to five miles to get anything at all – that is unless they cash their cards in below face value to the criminals waiting to take advantage of desperation. Following the outcry over the decision, the council have said they will be bringing other supermarkets into the scheme – still denying claimants the ability to spend the money on essential items like heating and transport that are not avialable at supermarkets, and from seeking out the best deals at other shops.

Birmingham City Council should replace the pre-paid cards with money and allow people to shop at local business and places like the markets who are losing money as benefit cuts hit the city, whilst the council is warning of chaos as nobody knows how the benefit reforms work (including the DWP) and welfare offices face closure in council cuts.

Dan Doherty criticised the Labour administration in his article on this decision on the Slaney Street blog.

By failing to stand up for some of its most vulnerable inhabitants, the men and women who run our city have once again shown their cowardice, their complacency, and their complicity. They have wholeheartedly bought into Whitehall’s message that the poorest must be demonised, castigated, and stripped of their dignity and autonomy

We would encourage everyone to attend this demonstration. Kings Heath high street is step free and accessible toilets are available at Kings Heath library which is approximately 0.2miles from ASDA. (Other accessible toilets may be closer).
The council have already started to backtrack from this stupid decision, claiming that other supermarkets are going to join the scheme – but why should the Bullring markets and our local shops lose out to multibillion pound businesses?

Bernice Ellis of the Open Market Trader’s Association has said that their customers are often low income and therefore likely to be affected by this:

We serve low income people, they come to us for the low prices. People will get on a bus to come to us because the price of food is so much lower than anywhere else

We call on the council to change the scheme so that it can be paid in money to allow people to find the best deals and spend it on the things they need in a crisis to survive.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Protest The Council’s Decision To Make Crisis Grants Only Spendable At ASDA – Sunday 19th May

  1. Pingback: Protest The Council's Decision To Make Crisis G...

  2. Pingback: Birmingham Trades Council » Protest The Council’s Decision To Make Crisis Grants Only Spendable At ASDA – Sunday 19th June

  3. Is it Sunday the 9th of June? (19th is a Wednesday)

  4. I think that the quicker the rest of us can get rid of the “ConserviDem” Government , the better. So what ever happened to politicians seeking public office due to the fact that they believed in a better United Kingdom for all of us? Th UK is going to the dogs! What the hell does Government expect to continue to defend such a blatant obvious attack on the least well of and expect the rest of us to Can anyone explain heck have WE let it get to this? No longer can i see any honest difference between any of the three main political bodies in terms of actual policies it’s lucky then, that they each have taken the time to ensure that they have colour coded their nice silk shirts and handbags to give me some kind a clue at to what party they are part of after saving up for a TV licence to watch them on ‘the great’ BBC! .

    How about, Instead of the slew of career Muppets, of which who have not often had to think about cutting back on meals to save up money for new school jumper for the children, have no idea of the price of half a pint of milk let alone and have never had to call ‘Peter’ to tell him that this month you cant make a pymnet to him, because its “Alans”, “Paula’ or “Pats” turn this time, what we need is Members of Parliamnt who actually reside in the areas that they proport to represent and who appreciate the issues affecting their constituents!
    Between them they have closed or sold the majority of UK manufacturing, imposed taxes on taxes, but where the powers that be couldn’t find a way to add yet another tax, they have simply invented a fine. The few jobs that are left in the UK they have made actually working nearly pointless- we have been employed for most of the past 22 years, and i can honestly say that I have seldon felt so close to packing in my job and signing on the sick as much as now.

    We both I work 2 jobs, however still run out of income before the next wage day, god only knows how those who are on benefits are expected to keep going when they are being shoved off sickness benefits by tthe DWP and shifted onto monthly benefit payments of Universal Credit, especially with the ending of Crisis loans and the “oh-so-seceret” Short term Benefit Advances, that the DWP are so keen to keep in the bank.

  5. Pingback: 10 Things You Should Know About Universal Credit – PCS Factsheet | Birmingham Against The Cuts

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