Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Benefits Britain: Cheap and Nasty, Just like Channel Four Likes ’em.

with 13 comments

Benefits Britain

Channel Four’s Shame: Benefits Britain.

So Benefits Britain screened last night.

Three volunteers confronted the benefits system of 1949.  This operated (according to the Independent) on the rule that it would provide “help to those who were prepared to help themselves”. Their 2013 allowance was replaced by what they would have got (accounting for inflation) in 1949 money. The programme makers claim, ” the welfare system it resurrects is anything but a soft touch for any of the claimants, which include single parents, the disabled, the elderly and the sick.”

Everybody immediately confronted the insurance basis of the post-war Welfare system.

You only got something out on the basis of having paid in – through the National Insurance system.

It was made clear that any additional help, through National Assistance, was considered such a stigma that people were very reluctant to even try to use it.

Melvyn, a widower and a  pensioner, saw his income of  £100 a week drop to £5.49 a day; Karen, who had worked for 22 years presently on sickness benefit, also saw her money fall drastically, and Craig, confined to a wheelchair who had spina bifida from birth, had not NI contributions. He only got some income when he agreed to go on a training course.

Melvyn barely had enough  food to live on, and found it impossible to pay his utility bills. he ended up pawning his grandfather’s watch to pay for them.

He often broke into tears recalling his beloved wife.

It was harrowing for him, and harrowing for us to watch, though no doubt good television in the producers eyes.

Karen was obliged to defend her eligibility for any benefits – her illnesses were  largely invisible. She quickly became very stroppy about this and rightly so.

But then she was just a  mixed-race working class women, fresh for Channel Four viewing.

Craig was very happy – as he deserved to be – at being offered a job after his course.

His dignity did not make us forget the earlier degrading scenes.

The “Welfare Enforcement Officers” (apparently a Channel Four title they just invented),  Colin Goldsack and Ann Townsend clearly enjoyed themselves snooping around and policing people’s lives. They had form – both had worked for civil service departments  now part of the DWP.

The producers seemed to think that intense surveillance of claimants’ lives was something of the past.

They had obviously not signed on recently.

Townsened thought that we should perhaps “consider” asking the same kind of tough 1948 questions to claimants today.

It might also be suggested that she has spent the last few years on holiday on the planet Mars.

The Indy’s telly critic,  ARIFA AKBAR says,

The premise of this show seemed irresponsible and ill-thought-out. It was a bit like devising a show that put today’s mentally ill – those with bipolar, schizophrenics, anorexics and bulimics – into 19th-century’s Bedlam to see how they would fair in a pre-Freudian, pre-RD Laing era.

I was reminded of some post-War virtues Channel Four has forgotten,

The term ‘Reithianism’ describes certain principles of broadcasting associated with Lord Reith. These include an equal consideration of all viewpoints, probity, universality and a commitment to public service. It can be distinguished from the free-market approach to broadcasting, where programming aims to attract the largest audiences or advertising revenues, ahead of – and, in practice, often contrary to – any artistic merit, impartiality, educative or entertainment values, that a programme may have. Wikipedia.

Benefits Britain was cheap.

The participants were unpaid, to preserve their benefits, and the rest of the production must have cost a shoestring.

It was unable to consider the viewpoint that the system was just being created yet was an advance on what had existed before.

Other aspects of welfare, like its universality (regardless of contribution) were introduced because the insurance system did not work.

This was equally left unconsidered.

The gruelling scenes watching the poor chap Melvyn lacked all probity.

It was not universal, since nobody could imagine a sloppier comparison with the general experience of welfare today..

It breathed a dislike of public service – the  present day welfare system.

It was simply aimed “to attract the largest audiences or advertising revenues.”


Written by Andrew Coates

August 13, 2013 at 9:16 am

13 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. “Mums ‘selling sex to feed their children as benefit cuts hit Hull’s poorest’”



    August 13, 2013 at 11:34 am

    • Sex is always “sold”, love… don’t kid yourself 🙂 … but like any other “commodity” it depends on your “market value”. All right when you are young and hot… not so good when you are old and wrinkly. Can’t see me mummified pussy fetching much and that’s with the bloody bedroom tax to contend with.


      August 13, 2013 at 6:58 pm

  2. Why stop at 1949? A follow-up programme could see volunteers return to 1849: workhouses, the Poor Law, child prostitution, abject poverty and rampant disease with lashings of gruel served up. Sure to be a ratings winner.


    August 13, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    • I wouldn’t be surprised if someone had thought of that!

      Andrew Coates

      August 13, 2013 at 3:08 pm

  3. I cant say im surprized, ive said before people have to eat, HAVE TO, so this and crime will rise aswell as an increase in ill health.

    I suspect the tories really believed claimants would be held to ransom by sanctions and benefit caps yet failed to grasp the human nature (Alpha). By natures design we as a species are not suppose to be subservient so it stands to reason that people will turn to prostitution and forms of crime. Although yet to be reported on, cannabis growing has spiked again by the growing numbers of normal law abiding public (working and not working) all taking it on to supplement their ever reducing incomes.

    Humans have to eat, have to drink, so it is in our nature to secure that even at the cost of a life/s. To fuel the fire we must also consider behaviours during recessions, you know where people generally become meaner, more violent in their quest to remain on the ladder.


    August 14, 2013 at 8:10 am

  4. Now after all that is it me or is no one interested in the upcoming universal credit and the what will no doubt be the infamous CLAIMANT COMMITMENT.

    Everyone moans now about the current welfare process so I fail to understand the lack of concern, especially after seeing how brutal its going to be on you all.

    If you haven’t scrubbed up on it yet I strongly would as they are going to make claimants do loads of stuff that their not going to like, especially if claiming housing and council tax assistance. It is FACT that claimants will have to job search for 35 hours until they have paid work equalling that amount. THATS RIGHT, despite having a part time job (less than 35 hours) you will still be expected to look for either additional employment or new employment or STILL FACE SANCTIONS but this time not just your JSA/ESA.

    THEY, NOT YOU decide what constitutes as 35 hours of evidence job for job on your evidence so getting 14 things a week DOESNT GUARENTEE you have 14 THINGS THAT WEEK. So claimants will have to produce more or face MANDATORY DIRECTION meaning sanctioning just got easier for the JCP advisors.

    Obviously the Tories must have a plan about how to police claimant evidence and actions as they never say anything likely and you’ve only got to look at their track record to know that they have to date CARRIED OUT EVERY THREAT THEY PROMISED TO.

    So unless you have a fetish for being submissive and starvation I suggest you start considering a criminal profession sooner rather than later.


    August 14, 2013 at 8:47 am


    The word ASBO is about to disappear – only to be replaced by IPNA, which means Injuncions to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance.

    Interesting piece here:



    August 14, 2013 at 8:47 am

    • Its always nice to see people keep an eye on their countries politics as every UK citizen should do so nice post Tobanem, hope you signed the petition?

      Unfortunately unlike you most don’t so it comes as no surprize to see one law after the next get drafted in without the public knowing the slightest which is even more shameful when you factor in that its not like this stuff is hidden from view, just that the government know how lazy the British are when it comes to things like current national affairs SO DONT GO LOOKING.

      Its bad enough that already you can be convicted on the view of a jury rather than good old fashioned HARD EVIDENCE so having ones rights further removed is im afraid a step to far and I will go on record stating that this the land I was born in is just as much mine is it is every other citizens and I refuse to be bullied all on account of someones dummy falling out.


      I strongly believe this current government know that their house of cards is falling down so are heading to the post first to prevent any backlash from it.

      A law against annoyance, talk about exploitable and in the case of JCP us claimants are annoying just because we exist and create work for them so I have to wonder when we call them out on a legal prospective like DPA, can that be considered as annoyance as after all the advisor isn’t getting their way are they, I bet that must be ANNOYING FOR THEM ?


      August 14, 2013 at 12:40 pm

      • I forgot to say a wise person on this very site once said that “dissidence changed the world for the better” and history backs this up so everyone needs to sign this petition NOW before our god given right to protest and to question authority gets criminalised FOREVER.


        August 14, 2013 at 12:52 pm

  6. Over at the Daily Mirror, Ros Wynne-Jones wants to reveal what’s really happening in “Real Britain” as a result of benefit cuts.

    Join the fight..

    Have you or your family been affected by the cuts? Or have you been shocked by how your area has been hit?

    I want to reveal what’s really happening around the country every week.

    POST: Real Britain, Daily Mirror, One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5AP

    CALL: 020 7293 3000 and ask for the Real Britain desk.

    TWEET: @realbritainros

    EMAIL: realbritain@mirror.co.uk

    You can also access yet another sickening story about an ATOS victim here:



    August 14, 2013 at 8:33 pm

    • I read that piece in the Mirror, and it wasn’t just sickening, it was chilling. Chilling that a man as obviously unwell as he was can be judged “fit for work”. ATOS will go down as New Labour’s biggest shame along with the Iraq war.

      Samwise Gamgee

      August 14, 2013 at 10:46 pm

  7. Tobanem

    August 15, 2013 at 2:33 pm

  8. Hello There. I found your blog using msn.
    This is an extremely well written article. I’ll be sure to bookmark it and come back
    to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post.
    I’ll certainly comeback.

    watch series touch

    February 5, 2014 at 9:20 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: