Wednesday, 23 February 2005

Living it up

by Dom Corrigan

Those of you pondering a trip to the Post Office this lunchtime, don't do it.

A trip to the Post Office is a slightly unpleasant experience at the best of times. It's a journey back in time or into Soviet Russia, with staff that are at best uncooperative, shabby, dimly lit interiors, and long queues.

Lunchtime is the worst time to go as the place is generally heaving with people. It must be the time when the drunks and long-term unemployed folk get up and go along to the PO for a little entertainment at our expense. It's amazing more people don't "go postal".

These days, though, some of the carnival atmosphere has evaporated because of a new fangled thing called "Direct Payment". Your benefits are credited directly to your bank account. Seeing as you can get your booze delivered to your house, and drug dealers have always made house-calls, your average serial dope fiend doesn't ever have to leave the house. Brilliant!

I'm not sure whether I like this idea or not. Direct Payment's obviously taken some pressure off the PO and is probably a more efficient way of handing out other people's cash. In treating those on benefits a bit more like adults, I suppose that the hope is that they will take more responsibility for the way that they live.

On the other hand, having to collect your dole from the Post Office must have one of the last remaining penalties of living off the state.


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