Cashless welfare card missed its goals

The cashless debit card has had “no substantive impact” on crime, gambling and drug and alcohol abuse in one of the trial sites the government wants to make permanent, according to a new study.

Aimed at reducing social harms in areas with high welfare rates, the scheme quarantines 80% of a person’s payments onto a card that cannot be used to withdraw cash and blocks alcohol and gambling transactions. The card has been predominantly trialled in areas with high Indigenous populations.

In what is the latest independent study to cast doubt on the scheme, four researchers from the University of South Australia and Monash University obtained and examined administrative data from Ceduna, South Australia, where the card has been running since 2016.

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The cashless society from an ethical point of view

The debate about the move towards a cashless society has been at the center of the scene for several years, now. Various angles have been taken by economists, politicians, banking institutions and sociologists. Beyond the technicalities of the debate, lies the question of freedom, of inter-citizen solidarity and of governmental responsibility. The debate cannot remain in the hands of financial specialists, it is first and foremost an ethical, political and societal issue.

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