Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Benefits Britain, Channel Four Monday – More Poverty Porn?

with 37 comments

 

Benefits Britain 1949

 

Monday Channel Four,

Benefits claimants volunteer to live by the rules of the first year of the welfare state, to examine how our safety net should work.

Everyone’s got an opinion about the welfare state, whether we’re bemoaning ‘scroungers’ or pointing out how it’s failed the vulnerable, but there’s no consensus on how it can be fixed.

In this bold piece of living history, current benefits claimants volunteer to live for a week by the rules of 1949 to explore how our safety net should work.

Craig, who’s 24, finds that being born with spina bifida doesn’t entitle him to any benefits under the 1949 rules. But the post-war welfare state has another solution: it offers him training and work experience, and it has the power to force employers to take on workers with disabilities.

Craig has applied for hundreds of jobs in the past four years without success. Will his 1949 work experience at a call centre be a turning point?

Melvyn, who’s 71, hands over his 2013 pension, only to find that in 1949 he receives just £38.48 (the precise sum he’d have got then, adjusted for inflation). From this, he has to cover his food, bills and transport for the week.

Initially he appears to be coping well, but is soon plunged into debt and is forced to pawn his grandfather’s watch. What would the 1949 system have done with a pensioner who was failing to cope?

Karen, who’s 54, is on sickness benefit. Having worked all her life, she feels she should be entitled to greater support, rather than the government trying to take away more of her benefits.

2013 has judged her eligible for state aid, but will 1949 take as sympathetic a view of her conditions?

Comment.

It is hard to find a more irrelevant comparison than between welfare in 2013 and 1949.

Have we just fought a world war?

Is rationing still around?

Has Britain recently been “bankrupt” (as it was described in 1946)

Has Britain just had to negotiate a massive loan with the US ?

What will we learn?

Here’s some guesses.

The welfare state in 1949 had not managed to completely abolish all the hard conditions for benefits set down during the 1920s and 1930s.

There was plenty of moralising around.

People were generally much poorer, worse fed, and very many were poorly housed – not to mention bombed out.

They did not get a great deal of help, beyond the minimum.

No doubt some viewers will thrill to see the out-of-work and other claimants get treated strictly.

There will be gleeful remarks about “they ought to bring back some of those rules!”

This programme looks like another feast of poverty porn – joining the worthless We All Pay Your Benefits and the John Humprys on the Future of Welfare.

Shame on Channel Four!

 

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Written by Andrew Coates

August 10, 2013 at 10:25 am

37 Responses

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  1. Forcing people onto employers is never going to work. Even if incentivised by cash, which could surely be better spent.

    Sounds like poverty porn to me. Haven’t we had enough of this shit?

    ghost whistler

    August 10, 2013 at 10:38 am

    • It says nothing about: If forced to take you on (disabled worker), probably against your will and definitely against the company’s will:
      they (bosses and other workers) will resent you (the disabled worker). They could make you a slave, since you’re not allowed to just quit (well you could but then you lose your benefits and house. Scottish crofters and Highland clearances/ex-slavery black American slaves)..
      They are likely to make your life a misery, harrass and bully you in the workplace, or worse.

      If for example you are meant to be an office worker (and particularly when they already pay other workers as cleaners), what if your boss suddenly yells across the room:
      “OI! SPASTIC! CLEAN THE BOGS!”

      If harrassment wasn’t blatant it could be more subtle/hidden, like spitting in people’s food/drink, hiding their medication, damaging their adapted vehicle… Or people could set up accidents ready to happen, like deliberately send you to work in a dangerous place or leave something where it’ll fall on you. Or maybe try to blame their mistakes on you, undermine you, put you down all the time, spread rumours, take credit for stuff you did, frame you for theft or similar….

      (All the above including the spastic comment has at some point happened to me, so I’m not just guessing out of thin air.)

      When I was on workfare at the farm, the staff appeared to resent my presence. I was blamed for not being the 6ft muscleman the jobcentre (liars) and work scheme (liars) had promised them they were getting. Blamed for being disabled, and made to do dodgy tasks that would be dangerous for ablebodied big fit healthy strong guys to do. Also expected to do the same as the others despite being disabled, and ending up doing a lot of their work when they kept skiving off.

      something survived...

      August 12, 2013 at 4:55 pm

  2. Obviously not if Channel Four have their way.

    They must have thought they had to get into the market.

    Andrew Coates

    August 10, 2013 at 10:42 am

    • What about the BBC ? Let’s see if they try a similar programme on Panorama.

      Suffolk

      August 10, 2013 at 10:53 am

  3. From a nostalgic point of view, the programme might be interesting but I can’t see how this will relate to the present day – other than to make a comparison.

    It looks to me that this may be an attempt by Channel 4 and probably the government as well to coax working people into having a more nasty view of those on benefits.

    Obi Wan Kenobi

    August 10, 2013 at 11:07 am

    • If only JCP and WPP were able everybody to find a days work experience which lead to a permanent job! Respect to the guy in the wheelchair who managed to get an offer of work, although i think that this may have been staged especially for the TV cameras.

      The programme showed clips of people being trained in manufacturing work in 1949. They failed to take into account that the UK is no longer the manufacturing workshop of the world that it was back then. The UK has not been able to compete with the likes of China and Middle East for at least 10 years now due to the cost of living here. Yes, we have the workforce available in Britain, but who is going to pay a decent living wage when there are sweat shops in Bangladesh and India that will work a month for less than the equivalent of an 8hour days pay on todays £6.19 minimum wage?

      Government propaganda at its very best.

      Chris

      August 13, 2013 at 1:58 pm

  4. If this was just a social history program I might find it interesting but as said above, it is probably just another attempt to demonise us wicked people claiming benefits.

    In other circumstances I would say do we really want to go back to such harsh uncaring times? But that is exactly what this government wants
    !

    carol

    August 10, 2013 at 11:45 am

  5. Here we go again. Demonise the poor, because it is an easy target. It has been said that the “poor are always with us”. The “rich are also always with us” unfortunately. And the tax man has only achieved tracking down and prosecuting one of their twenty top listers. These individuals owe millions/billions.

    Mr Humphreys escaped the grinding poverty of Splott (Wales) but he escaped it. So he should know better.

    My parents in 1948/9 used to live in half a nissen hut (those round corrugated temporary accommodation things). My late father was Polish and fought with the tank regiment all the way to Berlin. That generation were promised “homes fit for heroes”.

    They were dirt poor but respectable. No-one of sound mind would wish living like that on anyone, they certainly would not.

    Sorry for the rant.but It is “Daily Bile” politics at its usual best

    Windmill1

    August 10, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    • My grandfather was Czech, fought for the resistance and Czech airforce, ended up in RAF till well after many more got demobbed. Had to use their own money to get themselves a crappy place to live, gradually built themselves up house by house.

      I won’t say where, but about half an hour’s bus ride away from where I live now, there is a Nissen hut. The family that got it originally, are still living in it. I guess nobody on any side still calls it temporary accommodation. It’s not even in decent nick, as many still are; it’s a crappy and rusty and leaky one. Possibly they can’t (descendants now I guess) move out, as that is ‘deliberately making yourselves homeless’, so no housing waiting list place, termporary council accommodation or B&B, or Housing Benefit.

      something survived...

      August 12, 2013 at 5:06 pm

      • Good to hear from you.. my late Polish father never used to talk about the “war”.

        Windmill1

        August 12, 2013 at 5:43 pm

  6. theres just to much happening today to focus on the past,its an absolute disgrace in an european country that seen’s such as this are tolerated below.

    the problem is people just dont stand together,unlike the poll tax which dropped following disturbances the government has divided the population alienating sections of society.

    while times were hard in the past,the equivalent easily exists today in real terms.

    http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/council-tax-huge-queues-outside-2033516

    ken

    August 10, 2013 at 3:33 pm

  7. I have said that before, in fewer words. Judicial review to start with. But who has the funds to pay for it? When I worked in housing “Shelter” who are comparatively well funded, used to use their friends to do judicial review jobs at £5k a time (true). I was just a cut and paste job….just change the names. Nice work if you can get it. As a charity in that way it was a disgrace

    Windmill1

    August 10, 2013 at 5:28 pm

  8. Like a wolf in sheep’s clothing this was programme was propaganda disguised as social history. Disgraceful of Channel Four to sink this low.

    ck

    August 11, 2013 at 12:41 pm

  9. Poverty porn? Yeah, that’s a good description.

    I view it as pathetic propaganda.

    They’re taking the piss!

    In other news… Just served my 4 week sanction sentence, only to find they have rather sneakily given me a further 13 weeks, for not applying for a job, for not finding something suitable in the dire job market. They simply call it ‘not actively seeking’ work.

    Jobseekers allowance? Jobfinders allowance? They’re jokers.

    Schoooools out for summer! Lol.

    Mr No

    August 11, 2013 at 8:11 pm

  10. One has to wonder why dont they try making the DWp staff live and work on 1946 wages too?

    growls

    August 11, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    • Don’t they have any nice skips they can all live in???

      something survived...

      August 12, 2013 at 5:08 pm

  11. Oh, how lucky we all are ?

    If this isn’t an attempt to desensitize the general public towards a current failing system by putting a worse one infront of it, I don’t know what is.

    No doubt with the coming of the infamous benefit cap winging its way towards actuality this will go some way to muffle the cries as rent arrears rise, healthy food diets dwindle as food prices soar dew to poor yearly crops to name but 2 actualities upon us unemployed or other wise.

    This is a rather clever ploy that not only muffles the cries of the unemployed but also has those working on poor wages thinking “well it could be worse”.

    Worthy of note though is most of the population NOLONGER watch TV, a point incase is the lack of banter regarding the recent Nick and Margaret documentary.

    gaia

    August 12, 2013 at 8:16 am

    • Anbody remeber these phrases. # WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND # # HISTORY HAS A HABIT OF REPEATING IT’S SELF [ALL BE IT IN A DIFFERENT FORM-SIC] #

      MR MIDDLESEX

      August 12, 2013 at 10:34 am

    • Self-indulgent hate-wallowing from the Mail – what do you expect?

      Andrew Coates

      August 12, 2013 at 11:02 am

    • Yes their on the ball today . just what is their problem I think they want us all to die.

      Denise Clendinning

      August 12, 2013 at 1:21 pm

  12. I SHOULD HAVE ADDED LETS HOPE IDS DOES NOT HAVE ” A BAD IDEA”

    MR MIDDLESEX

    August 12, 2013 at 10:35 am

  13. Talking of bad ideas, IS ANYONE HERE ALREADY ON UNIVERSAL CREDIT AND IF SO WHAT WAS YOUR CLAIMANT COMMITMENT ?

    gaia

    August 12, 2013 at 10:52 am

  14. When will Channel 4 do a serious programme about the hardships being forced upon people due to government ideology like they would have done when it was a worthwhile, radical channel?

    chibipaul

    August 12, 2013 at 11:01 am

  15. Yes channel four kick the people in the teeth with this low life programme. how does 1949 impact on today . Have you had a word with this evil government because showing this will not work

    Denise Clendinning

    August 12, 2013 at 1:13 pm

  16. Reblogged this on thepositivevoice.

    thepositivevoice

    August 12, 2013 at 3:50 pm

  17. Perhaps Channel 4 were paid by the DWP to make this programme. All part of the drip, drip government propaganda against the most vulnerable in society.

    A. Ellis

    August 12, 2013 at 4:55 pm

  18. IDS ought to try actually living on £38 a week and using that for all his rent, bills, food…..
    The worse idea was had by his parents when they made him.

    something survived...

    August 12, 2013 at 5:12 pm

  19. I have met IDS (by accident). When he is a “man of the people”, he drinks at my friends local the “Betsey Yvette” in Swanbourne, just up the road. His wife’s family owns the village (true)Try it.Tell us what u think?

    Windmill1

    August 12, 2013 at 5:59 pm

  20. Did his wife’s family run a mill or similar business during the mid 19th century? I wouldn’t be surprised.

    A. Ellis

    August 12, 2013 at 7:15 pm

  21. “B Y”, her husband fought with Nelson at Trafalgar. He made his fortune in Australia. He pegged it she came back to the UK. Bought the village (Swanbourne) “as u do” and the rest as they say is history. Feudal or wot? Her family have owned it ever since.

    Windmill1

    August 12, 2013 at 7:53 pm

  22. Correction, the “Betsey Wynne” Swanbourne..

    Windmill1

    August 12, 2013 at 8:22 pm

  23. “Paul Foot on the Insurance Company Unum and Cuts to Disability Benefit in Private Eye from 1995”

    http://beastrabban.wordpress.com/2013/08/12/paul-foot-on-the-insurance-company-unum-and-cuts-to-disability-benefit-in-private-eye-from-1995/

    “Also from 1995: Tories Reject Report on Poverty in Wales as ‘Communist Propaganda’”

    http://beastrabban.wordpress.com/2013/08/12/also-from-1995-tories-reject-report-on-poverty-in-wales-as-communist-propaganda/

    Annos

    August 13, 2013 at 1:36 am

  24. There’s a rumour going around that the Tories were so impressed by the harsh welfare policies from a bygone era that they’ve decided to reintroduce those policies into law today.

    Dr Demento Smith especially liked the way in which the elderly and the sick and the disabled were treated with the same kind of disdain he treats vulnerable people with today. Never mind the fact that the unemployment rate in the late 40s was 1.5 percent of the working population and its about 8 percent now; and never mind that a huge number of today’s workforce are employed on zero hour contracts. The only time anyone ever saw a zero hour anything back then was on the rare occasion when someone stayed up until midnight.

    No, the kind of hard nosed, tough love regime in the 40s worked because there were plenty of full time jobs, and apprenticeships and unions and overtime and fair rents. But Dr D says he is filled with pride at recreating the hardship and misery of a tightfisted welfare state. It’s just that his ideals can never create the jobs to might help to alleviate the hardship and misery caused by today’s welfare system.

    Now the only thing to make Demento’s dream come true is for the DWP to be rebranded as the Welfare 49ers – and that’s the values of 1849, by the way.

    pauly

    August 13, 2013 at 2:57 am

  25. This article is from today’s i newspaper. I can’t copy and paste it. It’s on page 7 and is by Emily Dugan the social affairs correspondent.

    RECRUITER GOT A KICK OUT OF STOPPING PEOPLE’S BENEFITS.
    A RECRUITMENT AGENT WHO POSTED GLEEFUL MESSAGES ONLINE ABOUT GETTING PEOPLE’S BENEFITS STOPPED AFTER THEY MISSED APPOINTMENTS HAS BEEN SUSPENDED AFTER HER COMMENTS PROMPTED A BACKLASH ON TWITTER.
    KELLY-JANE STONE FROM WATFORD, WHO WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR FINDING STAFF FOR THE ONLINE RETAILER AMAZON, POSTED MESSAGES ON SUNDAY SAYING ”SO MUCH PLEASURE” FROM GETTING PEOPLES BENEFITS STOPPED. USING A NOW CLOSED TWITTER ACCOUNT CALLED @DietQueen, SHE SAID ”iF PEOPLE FROM [THE JOBCENTRE] DON’T TURN UP FOR AN APPOINTMENT WITH ME I STOP THEIR BENEFITS FOR 13 WEEKS…….SUCKERS”. STONE WORKED AT THE TRANSLINE GROUP IN HEMEL HEMPSTEAD. THE COMPANY SAID LAST NIGHT THAT SHE WAS ”SUSPENDED PENDING A FULL INVESTIGATION.

    I@INDEPENDENT.CO.UK

    PHILIP

    August 13, 2013 at 8:31 am

    • Suspended and worse I hope…I would fire her boss as well. You have identified a “training need”. If she does not like the job get a new one…?

      Windmill1

      August 13, 2013 at 1:28 pm

  26. I am looking for technical info on the “Universal Jobmatch” which we all love (not). Can u post a covering letter on this system? I can’t see it. I did ask my “advisor” at the JC+ today but he did not know, saying, I have not had to use this recently, you should speak etc..

    Is there such a facility on this? Otherwise it makes no sense..

    Please respond. Nick

    Windmill1

    August 13, 2013 at 1:45 pm


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