Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Inside The Welfare State documentary on Universal Credit sparks anger.

with 65 comments

I watched the programme and the above is one of the strong messages I got from it.

That, and the geezer (who could be somebody I know, though his previous drug habit looked as if it had been worse than most)  sat in front of a computer for 8 days a Day doing ‘Job search’ – he finally ended up cleaning light railway trains for a pittance.

The Food Bank looked a horror, like the cheap end of B & M, and the handout was miserly.

Then there was the woman caught in the difficulties the Tweet above talks about.

And the homeless Irish bloke…

This is well true:


These are some of the reports and reviews.

Universal Credit system slammed by ‘heartbroken’ BBC benefits documentary viewers


Viewers have branded a new BBC documentary about the struggles of relying on Universal Credit as “heartbreaking” while slamming the “broken” system which allowed it to come about.

One launched a tirade at the perceived lack of empathy shown by some staff at a Job Centre, after it was suggested claimants need to budget better.

Three-part BBC Two series Universal Credit: Inside the Welfare State launched on Tuesday evening, with episode one focusing on Peckham Jobcentre in London, visited by more than 1,000 people each day, including former NHS worker Rachel and homeless man Declan.

Job Centre employee Karen, meanwhile, finds herself faced with similar difficulties to her clients, and has to take a second job to support herself.

Taking to Twitter during the initial broadcast at 9pm last night, viewers were shocked at the difficulty of accessing benefits and distressing backgrounds of the claimants featured, as well as the way they are treated.

Evening Standard.

A new BBC documentary series explores the benefits system


The true story of this benefits revolution is on the shop floor where the job centre staff must accommodate the demands of the claimants, many of whom are ill-equipped to understand the beautiful simplicity of the benefits revolution.

Rachel, a single mother who left her NHS job after 27 years to care for her parents, struggles with anxiety. Job centre worker Karen does a second job in a pound store after absorbing the anger of claimants all day. And there’s grumpy, articulate Phil, with track marks on his arm and a lost dream of becoming a photojournalist,  weighing up the value of a job cleaning trains for the minimum wage.


Written by Andrew Coates

February 5, 2020 at 1:53 pm

65 Responses

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  1. Andrew Coates

    February 5, 2020 at 2:03 pm

  2. Why has the government got this obsession with insisting on the (minimum) five week assessment period (much longer sometimes) and paying UC four weeks in arrears? The government keeps on saying that people strapped for cash can get an “advance payment”, which sounds like bringing forward their entitlements so that there is no long “assessment period” to cope with, when in fact UC is ALWAYS paid in arrears and the “advance payment” is in fact a loan from the DWP itself which is clawed back by way of deductions of up to 40% from UC payments themselves when finally received. This means that the poorest applicants are put in debt by BY DESIGN, from the beginning of their claim, and that the amount eventually received will be less than, possibly MUCH LESS for up to EIGHTEEN MONTHS, than the amount which the law says is necessary to keep body and soul together because of deductions made to claw back any “advance” received.

    UC pauperises only the poorest and most vulnerable applicants by driving them into debt and rent arrears from the word go by reducing their entitlements because they were so poor as to need an “advance”. Only the most strapped face this peril. Better off applicants, perhaps with savings or relatives to support them, will get their full entitlements after five (or more) weeks without reductions. Only the neediest end up having to try to make ends meet by receiving less than the law says is necessary because they were forced by unfortunate circumstance to take out a loan from the DWP.

    On the bright side at least the DWP doesn’t charge interest on “advanced payments”…

    … YET!

    Humane Being

    February 5, 2020 at 2:22 pm

  3. I watched it and found it to be very depressing. That bloke forced to clean trains could have been me, or any of us. The situation is hopeless. The Tories are hell-bent on persevering with UC come hell or high water, and it will continue for decades. My only hope in life is to live long enough to get my State Pension.


    February 5, 2020 at 2:35 pm

    • @trev, If a genuine system of bio-stasis is developed, you could have yourself frozen for a few years. Then thawed out in time to claim your pension.


      February 5, 2020 at 4:28 pm

    • It’s people like that bloke that was made to clean trains that gives the unemployed a bad name and fuels hate campaigns like those of the Daily Mail that helped the Tories attack social security. The guy had been on benefits for ten years, was fit and healthy, and clearly had no wish to do any kind of job if he could help it seemingly quite happy to leech a living from involuntary donations made by men and women pulling their weight and doing the daily grind. Unless the chap was mentally ill I doubt that many would have a jot of sympathy towards him because his attitude stank to high heaven. What a plonker to have behaved like a moribund, parasitic, wilfully idle and entitled tw@t like that on camera not even having the guile to try to disguise his obstinate reluctance to make a decent effort to find a job. Just like the awful White Dee before him it’s rotten eggs and worms in the apple like that them tars the jobless with the same manure coated brush. How the geezer dodged being sanctioned to the max is a mystery.


      February 5, 2020 at 6:45 pm

      • Well I identified with him and had great sympathy for him. Why the fuck would anyone want to do some crap cleaning job full-time for min. wage that leaves them only £30 per week better off than on the bloody dole? Not me, that’s for sure. Has for his health, it was revealed that he had a history of heroin addiction and even though he was now clean he said he’s never well. And the guy is 61 ffs, worn out, should be able to Retire at 60 in a civilized country.And what about so-called “White Dee”? A perfectly ordinary woman going about her business leading an absolutely normal mundane life, demonized and vilified by the Rightwing media.


        February 5, 2020 at 6:57 pm

      • He should have borrowed a walking stick, wheelchair or summat and played the ‘disability’ card. He should have played any card in the pack. The BBC must have thought all their Christmas’s had come at once when he was hand-picked and refered to them by the jokecentre. Assuming he isn’t some out-of-work actor or summat like has happened before. It is supposed to be a documentary not a Ken Loach film.

        Dee White

        February 5, 2020 at 7:21 pm

      • He won’t even be £30 better off. That is just the headline figure. There might be travel him to fork out for. Then there is the ‘hidden’ expenses like clothing and footwear/socks which will wear out quick. He will need to spend a lot more on food. He will need extra calories and extra protein (expensive) to repair his muscles. When all is added up he will be WORSE off.

        Slyver Rikol

        February 5, 2020 at 7:54 pm

      • And he will have to pay FULL Council Tax.


        February 5, 2020 at 8:09 pm

      • @trev- I’m with you there Trev. Why would anyone want to be used as cheap labour at 61 years of age ?
        There is nothing the least bit good about any of it. There is a lot of jealousy about from sheep brains who have stuffed themselves with a dead-end job, two kids and a mortgage, and resent it when other people won’t do the same.

        Fred H.

        February 5, 2020 at 8:24 pm

      • Well at least you tapeworms are showing your true colours. You have no intention of doing a fair days work for a fair days pay. No wonder you people vote Labour, because you think that’s the party that will give you an easy ride. Spongers, parasites and absolutely useless to a man… and woman. You should be ashamed and would be if you had any shame.


        February 5, 2020 at 8:48 pm

      • Wilson, the guy in the programme lived in London and was being paid £8.25 per hour, is that what you call fair pay? Other people doing the exact same job were being paid at a higher rate simply because they are contracted to another company. Don’t you believe in Workers Rights? Or wage parity? Are you a Class Traitor Tory-voting scum? Train drivers are on over 50k p/a, train cleaners ought to be on at least half that amount for the job that they do, and to make it worth signing off the dole. Since when did being the victim of exploitation and in-work poverty make anyone a paragon of virtue?


        February 5, 2020 at 9:09 pm

      • He will also need to pay for prescriptions, his spectacles (since he is in his 60s his prescription probably changes regulatory), he will lose his warm home discount, he will lose his social tariffs such as BT Basic + Broadband), he will have to pay through the nose to get on line, council gym discounts, and what have you, and as mentioned FULL council tax.

        And to the naysayers shit work like this is bad for your mental health, it is far, far worse than being on the dole. Study after study has proven this. And if you have ever been in this situation you will know how awful it feels and you will also know that the only way out of it is to knock yourself out of it with drink. It is the only easily accessible escape route. It will turn you to drink.

        Wyona-Grace Forthingham

        February 6, 2020 at 1:04 am

      • Yeah, train drivers are on at least £50K plus overtime. Mainline ones get a lot more as do overnight ones. London tubes drivers are on over £100,000 a year. Then we have that billionaire Dicky Branson fucker who owns the trains this poor gut was cleaning.

        Casey Jones

        February 6, 2020 at 1:25 am

      • @Wilson: Here we see someone whose only consolation is climbing on his fat ugly wife, and then going down the pub for a few miserable pints afterwards. Trapped in his miserable life of low-paid slavery. He bought into the system, and now he doesn’t like it.

        Socialist Sam

        February 6, 2020 at 11:18 am

      • Thing is that unless you are well qualified or talented cleaning trains, or some similarly undemanding occupation, is probably the only work you are fit for. It’s hard working and honourable people like that that help pay your pocket money and keep a roof over your head and food and drink in your mouths. The guy was whining about being “bored” doing job seeking online at the Jobcentre! So what! Most jobs are routine and pretty boring and what else had the guy got to do on a daily basis to excuse himself from job seeking anyway? Watch daytime television? Invent a better mousetrap? Go for a walk? Complete his PhD? Lie in bed? Reconcile general relativity and quantum mechanics? Play with himself? Who the heck does he think he is anyway to be so deluded as to believe that he can choose between a life lived on benefits at somebody else’s expense or trying to contribute something to the society that cossets him and try to carry out some sort of part-time or full time worthwhile employment; even Labour’s social contract demands that fit and able-bodied people of working age should accept employment if/when it is available.

        I will admit that the “train cleaner” guy obviously had more than one screw loose inside his bonce because any cheat or fraud worth his/her salt would have had sense enough to pretend that he/she wanted to work, or was willing to work, while in a Jobcentre and being videotaped for public broadcast and trying to appear as if he/she was doing his/her best to find gainful employment. He had already been sanctioned three times previously and looked well on his way to a six month sanction which would happen under any Conservative or Labour government irrespective of who happened to be Prime Minister.

        If I was Prime Minister I would make the government the employer of last resort and pay unemployed people the minimum wage to do useful work in and around their communities locally. And I would strip work-ready unemployed persons who refused of all support, not for a fixed period as now but until they toed the line and complied. Would it be expensive? Yes. But it would root out all fit and able-bodied benefit claimants who preferred to swing the lead at other people’s expense, indefinitely, and improve their communities locally by getting useful work done for a fair rate of pay.

        As for you freeloaders and grifters out there, well, a least have the sense to lie as plausibly as possible.


        February 6, 2020 at 12:23 pm

      • Wilson, if you were PM would you give unemployed people an easier time if they were doing voluntary work, and especially those over 55 ?


        February 6, 2020 at 3:31 pm

      • @Wilson, what is so talented about driving a train? Like the advert goes, “If you can ride a bike, you can drive a car, and if you can drive a car you can drive a train”. Which is wrong in fact since a bike has more controls than a train. Driving a train is so simple that automatic self-driving trains are being introduced. Some of us are never given the chance or opportunity to do anything else. What we do is out per-determined destiny in life, what the system dictates. The film Gattaca (based on DNA sequences) demonstrates this. In the world of Gattaca you are born as a VALID or an INVALID. If you are INVALID you will the menial jobs. In the space centre we see that we have 3 tiers. The bottom tier is those doing the cleaning (working-class), then we see the ‘code monkey’ types doing the programming (middle-class) and then we have the upper tier the ones that get to fly the spaceships (the upper class). It is like when the Royal family join, say the RAF they always do the fun stuff not the dangerous, menial crap. It all comes down to opportunity. Like working-class criminals become bank robbers, middle-class criminals become lawyers, upper-class criminals becomes politicians. Or to quote: Ravachol: “Judge me, messieurs of the jury, but if you have understood me, while judging me judge all the unfortunate who poverty, combined with natural pride, made criminals, and who wealth or ease would have made honest men.” It is the circumstances that we are born into and the opportunities or lack of that make us what we are.




        February 6, 2020 at 1:01 pm

  4. The quote from ‘Rachel’ is disingenuous. The lady in question’s actual universal credit entitlements were £316.77 a month for herself and £507.88 a month for her two children plus housing benefit to cover the rent. As she herself said: “Just the same as under the old system.” £138 a month is NOT the full and proper universal credit entitlement for one adult and two children. So stop trying to kid us on that it is.


    February 5, 2020 at 4:12 pm

    • Kathy, I think those original figures were what it said for her initial payment and as the programme was shot over a period of time the later amount was what she had received some time later when she was in the jobcentre and had by then accrued further debts/arrears that were being deducted. Either way she didn’t have enough to live on for her and her kids, hence she was so stressed about it, and why on earth would she make it up?


      February 5, 2020 at 4:49 pm

    • Watched the repeat, Here uc entitlement is £997 a month, not the £138 that Rachel quotes and Coates seizes upon. She did make one mistake. She could have deferred paying back the loan for a few months.
      This would have stretched out the loan period. She could have ‘saved’ a bit during the deferment period so she would have something to fall back on when the repayments kicked in. It would have taken longer but been less painful and more manageable. But she seemed more concerned that she would still be paying it back over the Christmas period and she couldn’t be having that.


      February 6, 2020 at 1:14 am

      • That’s bullshit “Hyacinth”, people are left with insufficient to live on. How the hell can anyone in that position “save” , with no income and two kids to feed & clothe, rent & bills to pay. You talk out of your arse. UK Benefits are inadequate to begin with without the delays and deductions.


        February 6, 2020 at 7:24 am

      • Your circumstances Monthly standard allowance
        Single and under 25
        Single and 25 or over
        In a couple and you’re both under 25

        In a couple and either of you are 25 or over


        Andrew Coates

        February 6, 2020 at 10:55 am

      • @trev – Totally agree, these people have got no idea of the reality of being on benefits. There is no extra money for saving. Its all been cut to the bone to punish claimants and drive them off benefits.

        Darren M.

        February 6, 2020 at 11:06 am

      • To be fair to my daughter she has put ‘saved’ in inverted commas. So maybe we are not meant to take saving in the literal sense, more like squirreling away.

        Hyacinth's Mum

        February 6, 2020 at 11:19 am

  5. Andrew Coates

    February 5, 2020 at 5:48 pm

    • There’s many Brexit party members who I’d love to see dumped in a rubbish bin, Nigel Farage first and foremost amongst them. As far as I am concerned not one them would need to be homeless either.

      Passenger Young

      February 5, 2020 at 6:49 pm

    • This is quite sad really. An older man, lying on the ground, trying to fit himself inside two wheelie bins. Symbolic somehow of a need to hide, and seek protection from the wider reality.

      Malcolm G.

      February 5, 2020 at 8:32 pm

      • The wider reality for me is that I can’t even afford to buy a wheelie bin. Mine were set on fire last year and haven’t been replaced as the Council said I’d have to pay for new ones.


        February 5, 2020 at 8:39 pm

      • Ve see here ze man trying to insert his whole body into ze bin. Vich has become a symbol
        of ze womb, and his wish to return to ze pre-birth state of peace and tranquillity.
        It shows a need for union with ze eternal mother-figure at a most profound level.

        Doktor Rudi Reiniger

        February 5, 2020 at 8:47 pm

      • No worries, Trev. Somebody doing a shit job that you would turn your nose up at will pay for your new bins… and food… and drink… and accommodation… and utility bills… and internet… and clothing… and… well… everything come to think about it. Jeremy Corbyn will have to be ashamed of you because you have obviously lost the ability to feel shame yourself. Your idea of class war seems to be to do bugger all and parasitically leech an existence from tax paid by the hard-working working poor who, if they knew what you were about, would loathe you even more than they despise the pampered leisured tax paying rich. You and the other scroungers and spongers commenting on this site, who obviously have no intention of doing a stroke of work if they can help it, ever, no matter how much the wages, are a patent disgrace to the working class and fuel to the fire destined to burn the welfare state down to the ground.


        February 6, 2020 at 5:07 pm

      • You make sweeping assumptions Wilson. I’ve done plenty of hard graft in my life, since the 1970s, worked in factories, textile mills, building sites, shovelling shit and carrying concrete blocks up ladders for a pittance, worked 12 hour night shifts with no tea breaks, done fast-paced production work 7 days a week, 68 hours per week. Now I’m old and knackered, not fit to do full-time work even if there was any in my area. No longer have any transport to feasibly travel to work in other areas. Have a string of health problems. But have done two days a week voluntary work in a foodbank warehouse for the last two and half years.


        February 6, 2020 at 5:20 pm

      • Same here, trev, Spent decades, a lifetime toiling on building sites for peanuts. The irony is that I still live in rented accommodation. But what became of all those homes I helped construct: all in the private sector, in the hands of property speculators, housing association. The people making all the money have never held a shovel in their entire life, let alone done a day’s hard graft. I will tell you for nothing that grafting is a
        mug’s game. Better to work as a bullshitter, spiv… and coin it. I agree with trev.

        Bob McFinnigan

        February 6, 2020 at 5:49 pm

      • I’m living in a grotty rented flat on housing benefit in a crime-ridden area where gangs are shooting each other. Not a cent to my name. Nothing to show for the hard work I’ve done. I’ve got high cholesterol, high blood sugar, arthritis, a stomach hernia…fit for work, but there isn’t any work I can do or even get to. I do a couple of days at the foodbank and I’m knackered, takes me all weekend to recover. Even agencies have turned me down.


        February 6, 2020 at 6:42 pm

      • trev, you should switch to a bowl of oat bran for breakfast instead of that sugary cereal you normally have, Oat bran will work wonders for your cholesterol.


        February 7, 2020 at 10:55 am

  6. Yet more scandal oop north. And then they have the Alex Salmond rape trial next month. You have to feel sorry for them.

    “Scotland’s finance secretary has quit hours before delivering his budget amid reports that he messaged a 16-year-old boy on social media.

    The Scottish Scum said that Derek Mackay contacted the boy over a six-month period, and told him that he was “cute”.

    Mr Mackay said he had “behaved foolishly” and took full responsibility for his actions.

    And he apologised “unreservedly” to the boy and his family.

    First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she had accepted Mr Mackay’s resignation, adding: “Derek has made a significant contribution to government, however he recognises that his behaviour has failed to meet the standards required.””



    February 6, 2020 at 11:10 am

    • It always comes down to the willy in the end, doesn’t it ?


      February 6, 2020 at 11:22 am

      • @Samantha. My dear, men have always been this way. One brain in their heads, and another between their legs.


        February 6, 2020 at 12:22 pm

    • You can bet that the press have the front pages already mocked up with the headline: “GUILTY!” eagerly anticipating the photo of Salmond leaving the High Court in the prison van. “From First Minister of Scotchland to Sex Offender”. And all the endless #MeToo stories waiting to roll. That is why they are keeping their mouths tightly zipped so as not to prejudice any trial. If it comes to that. Fancy being on the jury!


      February 6, 2020 at 11:38 am

    • Yet another pervert being exposed in the SNP is very bad timing for Salmond.

      Jockina Strap

      February 6, 2020 at 11:41 am

    • Alex Salmond, a man so vain he drinks his own bath water 😀


      February 6, 2020 at 11:59 am

  7. Keep going BBC with the Universal Credit documentaries. Let the public see for themselves how hard it is for people to manage on it. Let them see kids going hungry and mothers going on the street to feed them.
    Then maybe, when they have finished stuffing their TV dinners, they will realise it could happen to them as well.


    February 6, 2020 at 11:13 am

    • The old scare tactic of ‘it could happen to you’ does not work. And certainly not on the general public. Lots of things *could* happen to us. Some pleasant, some not so pleasant We tend to deal with things that are happening to us. That is enough to keep us busy. Worrying about what could happen to us is an unnecessary psychological overburden.


      February 6, 2020 at 11:26 am

  8. Andrew Coates

    February 6, 2020 at 11:48 am

  9. ‘Since when did being the victim of exploitation and in-work poverty make anyone a paragon of virtue?’
    Right on the nail here Trev. Nothing good about any of it. And a lot of people now are starting to wake up and realize it. Just being used as cheap labour.

    Garry T.

    February 6, 2020 at 11:51 am

    • Trev is spot on! Spending your short time on this planet in a low-paid slave drudgery is a crock of shit. And then dying just as you reach your mythological retirement to give you a final poke in the eye. The ‘tapeworms’ on hear can see the horseshit ‘system’ for what it is.


      February 6, 2020 at 12:05 pm

  10. @Wilson. The worst kind of working-class Tory. Hat in his hand, grovelling to the upper classes.

    Red Forever

    February 6, 2020 at 1:00 pm

  11. Most of the long-term unemployed have reaiized that they have no real prospects in the current system.
    None. Only the chance of spending their time in low-paid drudgery that they don’t want to do. And who in their right mind would want to do that ?


    February 6, 2020 at 1:05 pm

  12. @dave – As Trev says ‘Shit-work is bad for your mental health’. What could be clearer than that ? But you won’t see any documentaries about that !


    February 6, 2020 at 1:13 pm

  13. People are totally sick of playing the poundshop / zero-hours game. The crap delivery jobs, the dirty cleaning jobs. Warehouse slavery and call-centre misery. Where does it ever get you ?


    February 6, 2020 at 6:42 pm

    • Exactly Pete, there’s no proper jobs anymore, just the dregs, unless you have skills/experience, but how do you acquire them when no one provides on the job training anymore, and especially as an older worker. I’ve even seen cleaning jobs that say must have 3 years commercial cleaning experience. Some jobs they want a 5 years checkable work history, or must have own transport, driving licence, CSCS, etc. Must have working knowledge of Excel, must be proficient in this and that, must have Retail experience, cash handling experience, great Customer Service skills in a previous role, etc. etc. Must be able to work in a fast paced environment. Roll on Retirement.


      February 6, 2020 at 11:04 pm

      • Knowledge of Excel is a lot different than being a power user, having mastery of Excel. We all know what Excel is on the surface. But dig deeper and Excel is a powerful programme with a multitude of advanced features. On this provider course were you using any of the advanced features? We you building expressions, using Solver, integrating VBA scripts, javascript lookups, integrating formulas into Access databases, etc.?

        Bill Gates

        February 7, 2020 at 1:27 pm

      • Rubbish! Excel is a piece of cake. What is difficult to master is wandering around trains picking up coke cans and crisp packets. Why do you think I am on £8.25 an hour?

        Train Presentation Operative

        February 7, 2020 at 1:34 pm

    • What’s to stop you turning yourself into an Excel whizkid, trev? There is plenty of free training and resources out there.

      Ex Cel

      February 7, 2020 at 12:32 am

      • I’ve done the courses, got the certificates, can’t remember any of it. Besides, they want people with proven experience.


        February 7, 2020 at 7:55 am

      • Spotted in the bad end of B&M. Jacob Rees-Mogg and family doing their weekly shop.

        Billie Liar

        February 7, 2020 at 10:59 am

      • Was this some ‘provider’ course? Micro$oft Office is ‘free’ via file-sharing. Easy to ‘activate’. A rust-bucket computer/laptop can run it.


        February 7, 2020 at 11:06 am

  14. thOse work coAches were actors , ive never snne any of them in Peckham jc

    Karen poundshop

    February 6, 2020 at 9:01 pm

    • That’s another one comparisons’.Retail work is extreamly hard for many confronted with psychometric test’s the ability to travel to other stores’ and unlimited flexibility,forget the Sabbath.Being a civil servent probably helps too.


      February 6, 2020 at 10:00 pm

    • It’s the way they deliver their lines that gives them away 😉


      February 7, 2020 at 11:09 am

  15. @Pete, Gets you nowhere mate. It doesn’t pay enough. And people know that !

    Barry G.

    February 6, 2020 at 10:31 pm

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