10 Jan 2014

Benefits Street: 10 things you may have missed

BenefitsStreet_logo_w

There has been a lot of angry comment about Benefits Street. Some are signing petitions calling for it to be banned, and arguing that it was “government propaganda”.

I’ve got nothing to do with it. Channel 4 documentaries are run entirely separately and by a separate company to Channel 4 News, nobody has asked me to write this, I’ve no idea of the circumstances of how it was made. I’ve never spoken to or written to the independent production company that made it. In fact I don’t even know who commissioned it. I write, basically, as a viewer, albeit one with interest in covering the subject matter.

After the Twitter storm I suggested that Channel 4 News follow up on some of the anger on Tuesday’s show (Ciaran Jenkins did in a lead story about cuts to council tax benefit). I had been in Birmingham on Monday covering the chancellor’s announcement of further welfare cuts from 2016. On Tuesday I watched it, expecting the worst, and then I watched it again last night.

Pre News refresh player – this is the default player for the C4 news site – please do not delete. Ziad

If you are part of the army of people condemning the programme without watching it, here are 10 things that you missed and four million plus people saw:

1. A couple so poor that they contemplate that prison would be a money-saving necessity
2. The “bedroom tax” and other benefit cuts biting hard, and people resorting to crime
3. Families unable to afford basic groceries
4. The “50 pence man” splitting basic groceries in to smaller quantities so people could afford them (the world’s multinationals are having to do exactly this with e.g. washing powder in austerity-afflicted countries)
5. The realisation that the 50p price point is too high, and “20 or 30p” might be more appropriate.
6. The start of a process of eviction for one woman who has had a benefit cut
And:
7. Benefit recipients admitting to £1,500 a month in claims, some fraudulent
8. Referring to receiving benefits as “being paid”
9. One man happily claiming he has never worked because of illness, but…
10. …sufficiently enterprising to take free magazines from Premier Inn, and sell them as copies of the Big Issue for £3 to people in Birmingham

Does the fact that some idiots on Twitter post alleged death threats condemn the programme? I don’t get this argument at all. Less than 20 tweets out of 4.3 million viewers?

Was it representative of people on benefits generally? Almost certainly not. As we on Channel 4 News have constantly pointed out, the largest growing and fastest growing part of the welfare bill is for older people. Perhaps “a street on benefits” would have been a more scientific title, but documentary titling is art rather than science.

More from Channel 4 News: ‘Demonised’ or ‘humane’? Row breaks out on Benefits Street

When we cover the impact of cuts or low pay on ordinary people on the news, (and we do it all the time) is it ever truly representative? Case studies are always just one data point. It is notoriously difficult to get people to talk about their own benefits.

Willing participants are a self-selecting bunch, perhaps more sympathetic than average, perhaps more connected or chosen by charities and NGOs, perhaps more politicised. Benefits Street might be unrepresentative, but so is all TV, in different directions at different times. My stories on dodgy bankers, for example, were unrepresentative of the vast majority of hardworking bank clerks, but you would never expect me to devote 90 per cent of the time to pointing out that most bankers are boring, rather than focusing on the rip-offs, and the tax avoidance.

Benefits Street

(Pictured: Two of the residents, Mark and Becky, who live on James Turner Street aka Benefits Street)

This was a depiction of one of the toughest streets in Britain. I worked on and off in a similar street in Manchester over six years in the 1990s. Apart from the Liverpool football tops it was eerily similar. There are streets like this in all our major cities.

More from Channel 4 News: Generation rent? See our Broken Ladder special report

For me, the biggest eye opener, which it seems will be expanded on in the next episode, is the interaction of landlords, high rents, housing benefit and welfare cuts. A progressive might argue that there is nothing progressive at all about the housing benefit system. Benefits Street, for example, might even go on to be the clearest illustration that housing benefit has, in fact, been going to the landlords.

Clearly the public is misinformed about the extent of welfare spending. Perceptions are well out of kilter with the reality. But nor are those who think that the welfare system is failing those it is meant to support, motivated by callous indifference to the poor.

Follow @faisalislam on Twitter

44 reader comments

  1. Steve says:

    Faisal,

    I watched the programme, and I’m one of those condemning it. I can’t argue against your list of things – all of these were indeed shown in the programme.

    However, that doesn’t take into account the way the programme was presented, the way the claims made therein were portrayed (“90% of the people on the street are claiming benefits” – but this makes no reference at all to the fact that many of these are child benefits or other things *everyone is entitled to).

    The name deliberately plays into the government’s message, and is an active attempt to encourage hatred towards the residents of this street, and the choice of that name clearly shows C4’s intent to portray *all* benefit claimants as scroungers.

    Your spokeswoman (in the article you linked) says this – “The welfare of people appearing in the series is of paramount importance to us.” If you don’t stop airing this immediately given the death threats, you prove yourselves liars.

    1. Sarah says:

      I also watched the programme. However despite most of the people stating how poor they were none were giving up fags, drink or smartphones. In fact a lot of the kids had them too. Why should the government fund these any more when they can not be bothered to at least help themselves! There were widescreen tv’s on the walls so they really have to be bothered to help themselves.

      1. Mrs A says:

        Have you not stopped to think the few who have these ‘wide screen’ tv’s and smart phones, may in fact have purchased these items prior to becoming dependent upon benefit? Or perhaps were recieved as a gift from a family member?? Or does this not fit in with your ideology of what YOU assume is the case? Why do you make assumptions based on ‘nothing’? I pay my taxes, have never been dependent upon the state but Id much rather my hard earned cash go where its needed most. I resent lazy no goods too but the only lazy no goods living off my back are the parasites in Westminster. They’re the REAL benefit cheats! Less than a quarter of the benefit bill is paid to job seekers and income support, over half is paid out to the elderly who have worked and paid into the system. The rest is paid out to people of working age who ARE already in employment but need their wages subsidised because of employers not paying a decent living wage. DO YOUR HOMEWORK BEFORE YOU CONDEMN.

      2. Dean says:

        You can only buy flat screens now, they are dirt cheap, there are also things called catalogs. Also smart phone contracts are cheap too, these things are cheaper a month then nappies or food , electric ect. Just saying….

    2. gary dobbs says:

      The program was edited in a way that it became, maybe not intentional, nothing but propaganda for the class warfare waged by the UK government. Yes it should be pulled from the air as it exploited the people featured in the show and the phrase, ‘Poverty Porn’ is perfectly suitable. Your article was interesting but you are trying to defend the undefendable.

    3. Robert says:

      Spot on we all know these program are made to make people look like idiots, I was asked to go onto a show about benefits cheats with the BBC when they came to see me they said oh right sorry your disabled obviously disabled we are looking for cheats, who sent the BBC to me the labour party , they asked me to help out.

  2. Annie says:

    A good read thank you

  3. Laura Weddell says:

    This seems a very fair and balanced article – thank you. However the only amendment I would ask is that private landlords are very different to social non-for profit landlords.

  4. TC says:

    Fair points Faisal except for the rather obvious fact that the programme focused almost solely on the exploits of two drug-addicted, unemployed petty criminals and barely at all on honest people. Those two men were the televisual equivalent of Daily Mail clickbait. A reputable journalist knows benefit fraud is a tiny fraction of the welfare bill and pales into comparison against tax avoidance, so why yet more programmes about poor people, who are already taking the brunt of austerity? Oh yes, because guess what! “They make good telly.” Unfortunately nobody really cares that the programme “was nothing to do with Channel 4 News”. A channel that makes a great news programme and has excellent journalists has been sullied by association with this show.

  5. Esme says:

    It’s not bedroom tax in the private rented sector. It’s LHA according to your needs.

    Which sounds fair. Doesn’t mean that it is as fair when compared to those in social housing with two spare rooms who according to the Guardian’s report will now be getting them free again.

    1. Andrew Dundas says:

      Hello Esme,
      It sounds to me as about “as fair” and divisive as the Poll Tax ever was.

      The Poll Tax destroyed Margaret Thatcher’s regime and elevated the SNP to become a movement that is seeking to divide our nation. Attacks on the less fortunate will always end in conflict of one sort or another.

      Housing and related benefits are the necessary palliative for our failed planning restrictions that has distorted housing costs up to levels that are unaffordable.

  6. Colin McQuillen says:

    Faisal, here’s just ONE thing you missed from your article.

    1) You, and your “journalist” cohorts are fundamentally failing to investigate the atrocious, horrific, life threatening realities of our society. REAL Journalists have a moral duty to expose the injustices of a Nation’s Leadership and expose the Crimes of Private Conglomerates so that the People have the information available to make a change.

    Journalistic failure to do this proves you are at best Weak, or at worst Complicit in affecting the aforementioned Injustices & Crimes.

    Where is YOUR Prime Time, C4 Documentary Series highlighting the Banking, Political & Private Sector scumbags? A few News stories is NOT a balanced representation.

    UK Journalists need to find some real courage…

    1. billy howard says:

      of course colin, they will not bite the hand that feeds them, [their advertisers] also i’m surprised and disgusted by this cheap journalism. i have been a great advocate of channel 4. but this has shown them in a different light.

    2. ben says:

      Honestly if I put journalists in a line from bad to good on this topic Faisal would be the last in the line. He’s trying unlike most who are putting out the sponsor line and taking the perks (ahem BBC ahem).

  7. Kevin Bartholomew says:

    The main problem I have with ‘Benefits Street’ is that it’s yet another in a long list of recent programmes which stigmatise benefit claimants as undeserving scroungers. Not on Channel 4, but we’ve already had the subtly-titled ‘We All Pay Your Benefits’ and another documentary series which compared today’s claimants to those in 1948 (the unemployed are now apparently considerably better off – a conclusion which conveniently ignored the huge economic and cultural shifts that have occurred since then).

    What I would ask is where are all the programmes on the real hardships caused by austerity to the benefit claimants who are not drug or alcohol addicts but who desperately want to find work; or on the massive increase in people relying on foodbanks, the problems caused by the bedroom tax (especially for the disabled), or the rise in suicides which coroners are directly attributing to people being unable to cope on less money?

    And where are all the documentaries on the shadowy mega-rich bankers who caused the economic crisis in the first place, or the scandal of the government failing to address corporate tax avoidance, which costs the country £120 billion compared to £1.2 billion in benefit fraud (the DWP has 3250 staff investigating benefit fraud, HMRC just 300 investigating tax evasion – says it all, really).

    I’m sick of the media relentlessly targeting the poor and vulnerable and propagating the myth that those hardest hit by the cuts are somehow responsible for the budget deficit. The BBC are now afraid to address anything for fear of laughably being accused of ‘left-wing bias’. So we are left with the likes of Channel 4 who, in the making of this documentary and the apparent exploitation and manipulation of the participants to fit their agenda, seem to have abandoned all pretence of socially responsible programme-making.

  8. Gavin London says:

    I’m old enough to remember the 80s recession when Channel Four was new and had a remit to be alternative (thanks Thatcher?!). Then they ran programmes like GBH and looked at society from an intellectual POV with the odd fashionable circus event. As soon as this recession hit we got Made in Chelsea and gutter rubbish like this. I heard they realised C4 needed “creative renewal” which only seems to mean less “freak” shows dressed up as docs and more stuff by and for posh people. WTF is the point of Channel Four if it all it does is perpetuate the societal norms, prejudices and middle class mores? We know ideology’s dead and our politicians are out of touch and I think we all know the answer re whether Channel Four is helping or hindering this problem. We need to give up on C4, privatise it and start again with a new channel with protected funding, no need to pay a license and C4’s old remit. Unashamedly intellectual, no need for fancy stuff, leveraging independent creative talent and ideas. WE’RE TOTALLY RIPE FOR IT. WE NEED CHANNEL NEXT.

  9. MM says:

    Well this is really the modern day equivalent of bear baiting . Maybe you SHOULD look in to exactly who commissioned it…was it the so called nudge unit having some influence here.Come on comment if you must but as a journalist you should at least check the story and its makers.
    Pandering to stereotypes like this programme has done is insulting to all shown in it and insulting to people with a brain who realise all is NOT as it seems.
    This has IDS stamped all over it….hate them scrounger rhetoric at its vilest.
    Shame on any tv company for participating in shoddy muck spreading tat.

  10. pauli says:

    Oh dear
    Nice try but ultimate Fail Falsal.

  11. jamie says:

    What it showed were caricatures at the extreme end of the scale – none of the points were pondered or explained passing most people by – the hard working ones in millions that still need benefits to catch up to a greedy market economy.

    You and ch4 are acutely aware of the governments message on benefits and the huge difficulties it creates for people as a right becomes a stigma while tax dodging bill sits at £35 billion.

    The tone of the cut and exposure of the people shows a clear innocence from the participants about media and its known sensationalist tactics – 2 yrs in the making – feels like the crew were there for a week with free joints and a cheeky wink…

    denying editorial responsibility knowing the mood out there is about inciting controversy not solutions..or will that be the panel debate ch4 special as we side line our rights to media courts of opinion driven by agenda – 0.7% benefit fraud (minuscule compared to contract rigging and tax dodging) not the 25% perceived by the public thanks to complacent at best media

  12. Trevor Habeshaw says:

    All the issues mentioned in the 3 substantive posts above were predictable and you, Faisal, are too smart not to know what the consequences of the careless construction of the programme be. But as usual, it is the story which chimes with many people’s prejudices generates the heat rather than the light. You can, and usually DO, do better than this and the consequences for too many viewers conceptions of the integrity of the makers will be disappointing. Let’s hope this is remedied in the subsequent programmes.

  13. Shaun Glossop says:

    I had the misfortune to see part of this program. I was genuinely horrified: dysfunctional and, in some cases, deeply vulnerable individuals – all barely subsisting on the fringes of our society – having their wretched lives served-up as entertainment to the nation…and all this under the guise of serious journalism.

    Worse still, the whole thing was clearly (and callously) calculated to pander to bigotry, and to fuel further the popular (and dangerous) misconceptions about “people on benefit” that this government has been peddling. I consider myself something of a Chanel 4 fan – but no more. “Benefit Street” shames Chanel 4 – it is inexcusable. As TC, above, rightly says: Chanel 4 has been sullied by association with this show.

    1. David Nicholson says:

      Ooh. I loves the scent of Chanel No. 4.

    2. Andrew Dundas says:

      Well said Shaun!

      ‘Benefit Street’ is a disgrace to British media.

  14. anny squire says:

    Not sure how we should be surprised -one recognises many characters that are represented in any job centre/supermarket checkout-having run an enlightened wholefood business in winson green in the early eighties – nothing changes-we were the port of call for a sad, illiterate, bullied, chronically ill individual who relied on our help to make a coin box phone call and read her letters. The programme merely shines a light on what is just around the corner in our society -for any fallen on very hard times.

  15. John says:

    Well put, thank you.

  16. ken says:

    flashing a twitter hashtag every time somebody said or did something controversial in order to get the torches and pitchforks brigade out is pathetic and beneath (what used to be) Channel 4.

  17. Franklin Percival says:

    I could take what you say more seriously if I felt you were an atheist. Are you?

  18. John Ingamells says:

    Faisal, you mention the 10 aspects that suggest a degree of sympathy and understanding for people in receipt of benefits under cameron’s government, yet, you must know that they have selected specific individuals, chosen a title to deliberately target a group in society already feeling stigmatised and under attack from all sides-media, government, and the misinformation pushed out by the both of them is aimed at getting the so called ‘deserving’ members of society to turn on benefit recipients Many of the members of that community have stated they were duped by the producers of this programme and told it was aimed at community spirit today and the title was only determined at the very last minute. Many of the community have said they have cherry picked certain individuals and not admitted that the bulk in receipt of benefits on that street were getting work associated benefits. I have seen a statement by a former pcso for that street who said he did not recognise what was portrayed. There is a genuine need to cover the damage on individuals and families who are receiving benefits by a government over such a short period of time as 4 years. A government with no majority and a minister, duncan smith, who has repeatedly lied and misled the public, the media and parliament , about the effects of changes, the cruelty and lack of medical skills by his department and their partners ATOS, the outright unchristian and cruel approach to the genuine suffering of people who are suffering and are the most vulnerable in society! There is a need for a programme which needs to highlight just how we arrive at such a rapid increase of numbers and demand of Food Banks from not only the unemployed, sick and disabled, but the many who under this government need food handouts to make amends for the deficit between their limited income, against the cost of living. You talk about making a programme about bankers but dont accept that they as a whole were responsible for the financial crash. I agree, but by focusing on the financial sector and Banks you would at least be directing your focus on the correct target for the crash, welfare recipients played no role in creating any of this mess, none at all! while you are at it, how about focusing on the many false promises made by this government that they would deal with the massive numbers of Billions lost as a result of tax loopholes in the revenue system and Osborne’s repeated lies about how he intends to direct HMRC towards closing these loopholes? He has had 4 years to do this and as he has been making these promises, he has been cutting the HMRC staff levels. Equally as much of a lie from Cameron and Osborne is the falsehood that he will deal with Tax Havens, the same Tax Havens where Cameron senior helped make his millions by advising others to stash their money away in!
    I am all for genuine balanced investigative journalism and an objective to report accurately, but Benefit Street is an insult to our intelligence and yet another attempt to divide and rule by making the ‘deserving’ turn on the ‘undeserving’, you know that, and so does the producer of Benefit Street! We are not all fools Faisal.
    What this producer has done is potentially risk the incitement of hate crime and genuine physical violence on that street, as well as spread a further increase through the many receiving benefits, of despair and fear. I don’t know if the government and media care or not, but they are driving many sick, disabled and vulnerable people, closer and closer to the edge.

  19. Philip says:

    Perhaps C4 will now do programmes on (a) wealthy tax dodgers’ avenue and (b) “though the keyhole” of bankers’ mansions bought by their bonuses. Or are you now fully sucked into the maw of the wealthy elite who run this country for their own interests rather than those of everyone?

  20. Philip Edwards says:

    Faisal,

    I have not seen the programme so I cannot comment on its contents. I didn’t watch it because I anticpated it would be, as usual, just another Daily Heil type attack on our most vulnerable citizens.

    I am willing to take your word that it wasn’t. I respect your general stance in these matters.

    However, I think you miss one vital aspect. That is – given the appalling state of the national economy plus bankers corruption and theft of billions – why was the programme made at all? And if it WAS made, why not be unequivocal in its condemnation of widespread neocon attacks on the welfare state? Why turn it into (apparently) a sort of infotainment soap opera? What happened to the socially-responsible documentaries of the 1960s both here and in the USA, work that made no bones about the REAL enemies of decent society? Why has mainstream media both sides of the Atlantic turned into a gutless charade of structured access that seems to serve no function other than keeping compliant journalists in a job?

    How easy it is to catch flesh and blood humans at their most vulnerable and inarticulate! How easy to make them look stupid or crooked! How different all that is to sitting in two easy chairs in some vile high rise office slum in Canary Wharf to interview some suited up thief!

    So if Channel 4 wants to set the record straight, let them do a similar “number” on the Canary Wharf hoods, liars, cheats, thieves and scumbags. These are the people who have robbed this nation blind for years and, like all cowards, blamed the victims. By comparison, the sad people in that Birmingham street don’t even register on the radar screen.

    I have never even looked at Twitter, let alone read it, and don’t intend to. But why be surprised when some nutters let loose on it if they think that’s the only way to be heard? Anyone guilty of physical threats should go to jail, just as theiving bankers should go to jail. But guess who is likely to get their first?

    Scarcely a day goes by that doesn’t prove this nation’s establishment is shot through with corruption from top to bottom, at every level, and inside out. And yet all Channel 4 can find time to do is “Benefits Street.”

    Suggestion: Why does Channel 4 not make a series of programmes about the proven REAL THREAT of international capitalism to rob from the vulnerable people of the world and even enslave and kill them if they don’t comply? Or is that perhaps not so important as “Benefits Street”?

  21. Steve Wilds says:

    “Does the fact that some idiots on Twitter post alleged death threats condemn the programme? I don’t get this argument at all.”

    Unless you’ve been unfortunate enough to be on benefits in the last few years, you wouldn’t get it.

    If you had, you’d personally know the effects of the past decade or so’s campaign of vilification against the unemployed, which has turned popular opinion to the view that anyone who is out of work is scrounging, cheating and choosing a feckless lifestyle over a working one. You’d also know how this programme directly feeds this viewpoint.

    The fact that death threats have been made isn’t insignificant, and is an extreme symptom of the unthinking, naive prejudice that has been engendered over the years against the people who need support in difficult and sometimes impossible situations.

    Think on this – the one thing you need to be successful in an interview for a job you can do is confidence. Benefit Street, like so many hate-filled newspaper articles and snide, drive-by hit jobs against the poor and unemployed (and lately even the so-called “under-employed”) before it not only breaks the confidence of those trying to get work but also builds prejudice against them among employers.

    Here’s a challenge for Channel 4. There are many capable and able people on benefits who are suffering all kinds of problems. Rather than banning Benefit Street, how about finding some of these people to make a documentary series about the first hand experience of life on benefits and the struggle of finding work in an environment that views the workless as scum?

    That would be brave and responsible programming, which is something that Channel 4 used to be known for a long time ago. Not anymore, alas.

  22. Robert Taggart says:

    Speaking as the only scrounger on our street (at least at our end of the street) – there be many different reactions to our ‘plight’…
    A grimace here, a shrug there, incredulity occasionally (when informed about our length of ‘tenure’ on welfare ‘courtesy’ of benefits), but, to date at least – no trouble.
    Our own reaction to those of others ? – a lighthearted riposte !

    Benefits Street – interesting, fascinating, depressing – good show.

    Welfare Benefits = Social Security – the clue used to be in the name !

  23. Zeeshan Ali says:

    Well, as every body has already mentioned, there’s hardly any thing left to say. I agree with the majority here. The sole purpose of this programme seems to be to create ho ha and hatred about people on benefits. Why would they show the odd ones out?? The programme is clearly advocating govt agenda that cuts to benefits are necessary and if people’ve got issues, they can go and watch Ch4 programme that how people on benefits are abusing their money. So yes Faisal its all very evident but i can understand ….everyone loves their job

  24. Joss says:

    This programme is what television should be all about.
    It is in the tradition of British documentary that tells the truth.
    TV viewers in this country have been lobotomised by Eastenders, Coronation Street, Hollyoaks and other “drama” that proports to represent ordinary life.
    In between those programmes and the reality, antique, cookery,dancing,speculative property trash, people have lost touch with what is actually going on.
    A terrific wake up call. Well done Channel Four.

  25. Artie Lees says:

    As Channel 4 has come to represent the worst of car crash TV I gave it a miss aspects and despite your protestations I don’t think I have missed much. Apart from your own program there is little left to watch on the channel.

  26. Sean Cahill says:

    Liverpool football tops in Manchester? I don’t think so. Where were you really Faisal? Liverpool, Manchester or Imaginarytown?

    1. Robert Taggart says:

      Liverpool FC tops in Mancy ?
      AYE – no better way to wind the natives up !
      Signed, Red Scouser !

    2. Faisal Islam says:

      Sean,
      I meant , apart from the Liverpool tops, (which featured in the opening few scenes of Benefits Street… they do, have a look) which you would not see in Manchester. so we’re making the same point really.

  27. victor kemp says:

    I know that certain jobs you overall pay next to nothing in tax because some jobs you can claim petrol allowance and tax on meals, I did door to door sales 10 years ago, earned £21000 a year was taxed but received a refund because of allowances, overall paid £60 in tax, having the right job pays little tax same as MP’s,how many free meals do they get at events.I now do a little volunteering and iI claim mileage for fuel tax free of 45p a mile yet my actual cost in fuel is 13p a mile more miles more tax free money I make, but the journeys are chosen by others, also I get free meals and accommodation sometimes.Get a job that travels around and pay no tax.That can’t be right but it’s legal.

  28. Mark Badham says:

    The problem I have with this show (and other “reality shows”) is that it stereotypes people and minority groups mostly negative… Programs like this and the “gypsy” stuff has been proven to insight hatred and predudice. The conspiracy nut in me see the media attacking minorities and is reminded of how Hitler used the press to vilify and dehumanize Jews. Anyway I think people commissioning these shows should think about the effect and in the future be responsible! From what I have seen this program is misrepresenting the benefits issue and causing hatred with no good coming from it other than ratings. You devalue yourself by this!!

  29. CharlesJ says:

    Faisal,
    “8. Referring to receiving benefits as “being paid””

    Come on Faisal, what should it be called then. If you look at any letter from the DWP it contains phrases like “How will I be paid?”, “your total weekly benefit payment will be… etc”

    Good Grief!!

  30. david says:

    It’s government propaganda spin plain and simple! The current government has a massive problem unemployment = increasing benefits coupled with a so called debt! So what do you do hold up your hands and say we are incompetent idiots? No, you covertly brain wash the population via the media over a period of time, then you get them to chant hypnotic mantras ‘scroungers’ ‘benefit cheats’ ‘lazy’ ‘work shy’ etc. Then once you’ve got the brainwashed people on your side you simply implement your agenda, in this case withdrawing benefits.

    After that you have public support with zero opposition! And people who never voted Tory in their lives are helping unwittingly to push Tory policies through! And what about Labour? If there’s a few votes in it for them they wear the cap to! The scam is so simple!

  31. victor kemp says:

    I got a free 36 inch TV with my phone contract, paid £25 a month,I later haggled with the phone company got it to £10 a month contract with minutes, meant effectively I got the TV for no cost as I would have paid it in contract rental anyhow.cheaper than line rental plus calls on a regular phone.
    Bye the way most of the cost of cigs and booze goes back to the government in taxes,plus the shop that sells them keeps the shop workers employed in which they also pay taxes, food doesn’t have tax, even if the shop indirectly is taxed/business rates in other ways.Would you like to look at 4 walls everyday, no holidays unless your lucky.

  32. Keith Lodge says:

    Benefits are not meant to keep people in abject poverty, and one has to qualify to receive them in any case, so the government should be proud to help maintain those people it judges needy in relative comfort and not starving and sleeping on the pavement.

    Benefit Street illustrates not how people manipulate the system, but how the government has failed to provide adequate investment to create wealth creating employment – hence the unemployed on benefit.

    At a time when so much needs to be done to create a sustainable future – free of food and fuel poverty and an affordable standards of living for all, it is criminal that governments allow the rich to benefit from the poor by exploiting the scarcity in essential shelter, fuel, power power and social services through incasing rents, energy bills, food and power prices.

    We have the technology to reverse the suicidal dependence on fossil fuels, but it will take the massive efforts of all working age people to achieve the promised land of sustainable food and energy for everyone.

    Do we have to wait for a revolution before the slavery by exploitation of claimed ownership of depleting essential resources by Bandit Millionaires is made illegal. ‘Don’t let them eat cake’ appears to be their motto – and it deserves the same rebuttal as ‘Let them eat cake ‘ by a privileged aristocracy received in the French revolution.

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