I want to take you back to Monday the 23rd. Well, to be more precise, Sunday the 22nd into Monday the 23rd.
You see, all those receiving benefits got a bumper early pay-out. Instead of their usual dates, all payments were made on Monday the 23rd, meaning a large amount of money was being paid in one go, to all those on benefits.
Gone are the days of a ‘Giro’ being sent, and all claimants have to have some form of banking account. Those that can’t be trusted with proper bank accounts can get a special cut down account from the Post Office. It doesn’t have a cheque book, proper debit card or anything beyond being able to accept transfers of money in, and then the taking of money out via fairly specific ATM cash machines.
Unlike most bank cards, the card won’t work everywhere or in every machine. Typically, it appears it will work in the RBS cash machines which are usually sited at Post Offices.
I’ve mentioned before (here) how midnight at the cash machines is party time. Each weeknight, different sets of claimants get paid as their pay days are staggered. As with all automated transactions, money goes into the account at midnight as pay day starts. However, for Christmas week, all of them got their Christmas advance on Monday the 23rd.
We took a drive through North Liverpool. We were running late (heck, we’d been working) but the scrounger druggies didn’t disappoint. There they were milling around or queuing in their charcoal coloured clothing, waiting to take their turn at the cash vending.
It was 00:08 as we slowly drove past the little pedestrian precinct that houses the Breck Road Post Office. A quick head count gave us at least 70 people. Yes, 70 druggies were out at eight minutes past midnight in order to draw out their money that was to almost immediately to pay for their drugs. Hell, why else would anybody be impatiently waiting by a cash machine at midnight?
We drove on. Turning left into Priory Road at what was now 00:11, we spied a cluster of about 30 druggies around the machine outside the Post office there. Indeed, there was a bit of traffic congestion from all the taxis that had brought some of the druggies and were badly parked up waiting for them to get their money before taking them back home. As usual there was a smaller queue for the adjacent phonebox. They were using it to put their orders in for the drugs of their choice.
Driving on we crossed over Utting Avenue. It was about 00:14, and in the distance we could see about 15 bodies shuffling like zombies around a fresh victim, adjacent the cash machine outside the Post Office. We didn’t pass them directly, but carried on towards County Road. There’s a Post Office here. Sure enough there were approximately 40 druggies waiting at the cash machine at 00:18.
The rest of our journey was Post Office free, but let’s summarise what we saw. Our snapshot gave us 155 people taking their free cash out of the machines at just after midnight. There may have been others there earlier that we missed, there may have been others still on their way. But across just four cash machines we clocked 155 people.
As I said earlier, there can be no other reason for being so desperate to get at cash at midnight, than to use it to buy drugs. What’s annoying about this is that we are obviously giving these people far too much free money. They take the free money out of the machines and give most of it to their drug dealers and pushers. Then they spend their time enjoying themselves whilst the rest of us have to get up and go to work in order to make sure there’s enough free money for them to use every fortnight.
Something needs to be done about this. It’s just not fair.
The only consolation is that for the Christmas week at least there will be less crime and robbery in order to buy drugs. We’ve already paid for it.