Page last updated at 13:38 GMT, Tuesday, 18 December 2012

MP: Ban benefit claimants from buying alcohol

A Conservative MP has proposed creating a welfare cash card to ensure that benefits are spent on "essential" items only.

Alec Shelbrooke said the card could be provided to out-of-work people on benefits to pay for travel, food, clothing, energy and housing.

Recipients would be prohibited from spending the money on "luxury" goods such as Sky TV, cigarettes and alcohol - items which "hard-working families" have to cut back on when money is tight.

Mr Shelbrooke was speaking in the Commons on 18 December 2012 as he introduced his bill under the ten minute rule motion.

He told MPs it would provide an opportunity for out-of-work families to "take charge of their finances in the same way as they will need to when they get back into employment".

It would also end the "damaging perception" of benefits claimants as "financially reckless".

We need to stop the "socially destructive state-funded way of living", he argued, adding that welfare benefits were designed to be a temporary safety net in times of need, "a hand up, not simply a hand out".

Mr Shelbrooke's bill received an unopposed first reading but it is unlikely to become law without government support.

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