There is a direct link between how well off we are and how likely we are to have access to the internet. Quids in! reveals why that’s just how the people at the top like it…
The games between rich and poor have been played for centuries. The battle has always been about the well-off trying to get wealthier while the rest of us do our best to make the system tip a little in our favour.
If Robin Hood were alive today, he wouldn’t be raiding ill-gotten taxes hoarded by King John. He’d open an internet café. Because it seems whichever way we turn, if we’re not online, someone is taking money off us.
- Beyond the limit
Having no access to online banking, whether using a PC or an app on a smart phone, means we can’t check our bank balance at any time. For current accounts that can go overdrawn, that means profits for the fat cats if we stray into the red. Kerching!
- Stuck in debt
If we knew our rights we’d be less likely to be pushed into things we cannot afford, be able to strike a deal with lenders and know what to say to bailiffs. By not having access to the Citizens Advice website, often waiting in line to see an adviser instead, it’s harder to know how to fight our corner. The longer we’re in debt, the more they make from interest.
- Keeping it basic
Knowing they’ll mostly be paying benefits into bank accounts, the government got the main high street banks to offer accounts with no fees or overdrafts. But not all banks like offering these Basic Bank Accounts and the less we’re able to check what accounts we’re entitled to, the more the banks can steer us towards the ones that make them money.
- Deal or no deal
So many places offer deals and discounts these days but they’re almost all online. But someone has to pay full price, right? If everyone was online, who would keep the profits up? People who shop around online and sign up to money emails with the latest offers make the wealthy’s blood boil.
- Given the benefit
Ministers don’t have to worry about their own money but it’s music to their ears that over £12 billion of benefits go uncollected in a year. Four million families could have shared the windfall but luckily for the government, they didn’t use the simple benefit calculators online. They tell us exactly what we’re missing out on. What’s more, any of us who are working age and on benefits or tax credits will soon be forced to claim benefits online… One in five are losing out through these changes already and for many it’s because they don’t know their way around the internet. A nice little boost for the Treasury.
A simple online search for ‘benefit sanctions’ throws up a list of advice on how they work and why the Jobcentre withdraws payments. Some are a guide on how to appeal and how four in every five appeals result in benefits being restarted. If knowledge is power, then it’s better for the authorities if we don’t find the answers online.
- Access denied
More and more services are ‘digital first’, from passports and driving licences to parking permits and even out-of-hours GP appointments. It means it’s cheaper to cut out the middle person, (ie, cut staffing), but it’s cheaper still if we don’t bother to use the service.
- Balancing the books
Click here for Quids in!‘s 20 tips for boosting our income. This helps make sure more is coming in than going out. Yes, we can also cut back on spending, and the online savings help there too, but the less debt we’re in, the less the fat cats are making off us.
- Jobs for the boys
It is amazing that some supermarkets insist we apply online even for shelf-stacking jobs. They must have some very qualified people piling up the beans. If cost is a reason why people are not on the internet, then it’s only people with money who get the jobs. Most employers nowadays recruit online, slamming the door on people who cannot afford a PC or smartphone.
- Ignorance is bliss
The law of ‘divide and rule’ says if we don’t speak to other people like us, we won’t realise what’s going on. From angry consumers on Martin Lewis’ moneysavingexpert.com to SkintDad’s Facebook groups trying to ‘Reduce Your Supermarket Spend’, people are sharing their tips for getting ahead. The less we know, the less the rich and powerful can make.
In the face of all this, maybe it’s time to kick back a little. Robin Hood would have been one of those heroes who saw the government’s 5p carrier bag tax and said: ‘Stuff this. I’ll bring my own bag, thanks.’ And he’d be online fighting for our rights.