Since tweeting the Guardian article I have had several comments which the following entry has been sent by email today to Sir Albert Bore Leader of Birmingham City Council.
The news of Asda’s provision of prepaid welfare tokens to be supplied by Birmingham City Council may be considered to be a positive move, however, very restrictive. In a move away from cash and indeed a voucher system, why has the City struck a deal with only one outlet in the Birmingham?
Would it have not have been prudent to have spoken to all major chains and ensure that people are given a choice especially those in hardship may have to pass an alternative supermarket, especially the Neighbourhood ones to get to Asda.
I believe the city must immediately review this and attempt to arrange the follwing:
1. Consultation with Asda, Sainsbury, Tesco, Morrisons, Aldi, Lidl, Iceland, Farmfoods, Coop & Heron.
2. Ask the supermarkets collectively to fund the provision of a Universal chargecard sponsored by all of them, as they are benefiting.
3. The Cards are loaded by the City and People then have a choice of where to go including supermarkets such as Aldi, Lidl, Iceland & Farmfoods which some are indeed on their doorsteps.
I do not know how the City has arrived at this decision to commit £6.1 million potentially to one major supermarket chain, that also sells cigarettes unlike some of the others, however, one must note hardship or not the poor and vulnerable people of Birmingham face enough dehumanisation already and at least they should be given an option of a wider choice of where shop in order to ensure value for money.
I would urge the City’s Leadership to look into this as it is public money and should not be committed to just one outlet hence imposing restriction on when to spend and importantly value for money.