Prepaid cover - Demos

added to this card to encourage savings made from benefits income. ...... minor software issues. Lessons. Council .... people to tailor their care and support to suit their personal ...... mind is that there are practical limitations on how spending.
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Claudia Wood is Deputy Director of Demos. Jo Salter is a Researcher at Demos.

ISBN 978-1-909037-30-4 £10 © Demos 2013

The Power of Prepaid | Claudia Wood · Jo Salter

A great untold story in public policy is the quiet proliferation of prepaid cards – a similar technology to a debit card except pre-loaded with funds – across public services. The cards are increasingly used by local authorities – 25 per cent currently use them and another 30 per cent plan to do so in the next year – to make a range of funding transfers to residents, including personal budgets for social care. The current schemes are not without teething problems, and lessons from the first wave of these cards need to be learnt, but their potential is substantial: they offer a range of benefits to local authorities and service users, including significant back office savings for councils, and a much simpler means for users to demonstrate that their spending aligns with their agreed care package. However, The Power of Prepaid argues that the potential for the technology extends beyond direct payments. The Government’s flagship welfare reform, the introduction of Universal Credit, is beset with difficulties, not least how to provide it to those without bank accounts – the ‘unbanked’. The report suggests that by issuing the Universal Credit on a prepaid card, the Government could alleviate the risks and premiums associated with a pure cash economy, while at the same time promoting financial inclusion and savings culture. Further, it opens up the potential – recently controversially debated in Parliament – to exercise some control over how benefits are spent. Whatever the future of prepaid cards, it’s clear that they enable more creative and innovative thinking regarding how people relate to local and national government and public services, and so deserve wider public debate.

“Prepaid cards could transform the way people interact with benefits and services…” THE POWER OF PREPAID Claudia Wood Jo Salter

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This project was supported by:

Demos is a think-tank focused on power and politics. Our unique approach challenges the traditional, ‘ivory tower’ model of policy making by giving a voice to people and communities. We work together with the groups and individuals who are the focus of our research, including them in citizens’ juries, deliberative workshops, focus groups and ethnographic research. Through our high quality and socially responsible research, Demos has established itself as the leading independent think-tank in British politics. In 2013, our work is focused on four programmes: Family and Society; Public Services and Welfare; Violence and Extremism; and Citizens. Alongside and connected with our research programes, Demos has political projects focused on the burning issues in current political thinking, including the Progressive Conservatism Project, the Centre for London at Demos and Demos Collections, bringing together topical essays by leading thinkers and commentators. Our work is driven by the goal of a society populated by free, capable, secure and powerful citizens. Find out more at

First published in 2013 © Demos. Some rights reserved Magdalen House, 136 Tooley Street, London, SE1 2TU, UK ISBN 978 1 909037 30 4 Series design by modernactivity Typeset by Chat Noir Design, Charente Printed by Lecturis, Eindhoven Set in Gotham Rounded and Baskerville 10 Cover paper: Flora Gardenia Text paper: Munken Premium White

THE POWER OF PREPAID Claudia Wood Jo Salter

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