Gransnet forums

TV, radio, film, Arts

Benefits Britain episode 7 -I'm speechless!

(92 Posts)
Anne58 Thu 26-Feb-15 21:56:43

Evening all, I avoided this programme on it's first showing (Monday) but unfortunately I' watching it tonight.

2 central stories, 1 a "new age" sort of woman trying to sell her invention, the Chakra Swing, the other a couple of people who think they have a career as singer/songwriters, he is about 46, she is 51.

Kit, the new age woman has been given a flat, which apprears to be at least
partly furnished, the others have all their housing rent paid for by the taxpayer. The man in the couple had the bloody cheek to say that he hates the government because if he was to take a job, they would deduct tax from his wagesshock Well, excuse me but who the hell do you think is funding your lifestyle why you pursue something that is never going to happen!

What I really don't understand is why these people continue to get JSA?

When I was signing on I had to produce evidence of my job searching, websites I'd looked at, applications made (both for advertised jobs and contacting companies " on spec") , there doesn't seem to be any evidence of those in the programme doing that! Ok, it might be a bit of judicious editing, but showing him sitting in a coffee shop with a poster in the window saying "staff urgently required" said a lot!

Comparing my own experiences with this lot makes me angry angry angry

GrannyTwice Thu 26-Feb-15 22:50:25

Quote frankly Phoenix anyone who thinks these sort of programmes are designed as anything other than to stir up the sort of response that you have
is being ridiculous . These are not the real issues facing the majority of benefit claimants today. Every time there is a programme like this you respond like this .Dont you realise you are being wound up?

Anne58 Thu 26-Feb-15 23:13:36

Quite frankly GrannyTwice I think I'm entitled to express my own views on here, whether you think I'm "being ridiculous" or not.

Galen Thu 26-Feb-15 23:15:32

Don't agree. I see a lot of genuine and frankly fraudulent claimants.
The problem is which is which.

Anne58 Thu 26-Feb-15 23:21:44

Silly little old me thought that Job Seekers Allowance was exactly that, a benefit paid to people who are actually actively seeking work.

POGS Fri 27-Feb-15 00:23:02

Well I couldn't understand how the guy who thought he was a genius at writing music was getting welfare in the first place?

Anne58 Fri 27-Feb-15 09:44:09

Same here, POGS , unless I misunderstood and it was only his wife who was getting it. I thought the attitude of the two sons was interesting, they both seemed to give the impression that they thought it was time he gave up his fanciful notions and moved on.

POGS Fri 27-Feb-15 10:37:13


I think they were both getting it at one stage but he either had his stopped or reduced somewhere along the line. . I remember him calling the government and his wife said she had to support him now.

Both they and the woman who had returned from Australia to 'grow her business' here of selling Chakra Swings were abusing the system in my opinion and it is defending the indefensible to say anything other, of course some will. All 3 of them had no intention of finding employment, they were entrepreneurs , work, moi.

I found myself batting for the overweight lass, who by her own admission said she had learning difficulties,. She is going to struggle to get a job but you couldn"'t help but find her a kindly girl who could flourish, albeit in a small way, if someone could take her under their wing. She was at least trying and not like the others who felt it was 'their right' to be funded by the tax payer to have a good lifestyle whilst chasing their dreams.

Anne58 Fri 27-Feb-15 10:44:25

Yes POGS, I thought that she showed she was really trying, both with the weight and learning to drive so that she would be better placed to find work. I also admired the way she kept up with the "voluntary" work, even though it wasn't easy for her to get there.

I think that although she is going to the gym etc, losing the weight might be a struggle, as her parents were on the large side too, to put it mildly.

Jane10 Fri 27-Feb-15 11:19:02

I also saw a mixture of absolutely genuine claimants and some who were truly just "at it". However, among those were people who really didn't understand where money comes from. I have had to explain so often that the government doesn't just have money from nowhere in particular but only have what we, who are earning, contribute through taxes. It always seemed to be a surprise to them! I remember sitting quietly seething while one man told me that there was no point in him working as he'd only be £200 a month better off. Sometimes it was hard to remain professional! I get angry at people like them tarring all claimants with the same brush. I also saw extremely deserving cases who wouldn't dream of asking for help but who really needed it and were in fact the people for whom the benefits system was set up.

granjura Fri 27-Feb-15 12:06:31

GrannyTwice- of course, we all know the intention of those programmes and other Press articles in the DM, etc.

However- the total denial by so many, that such abuse is far too frequent and should be effectively dealt with- is not helping at all. We all know that the Bankers have got us in this mess- but shouting it every time welfare abuse is mentionned- does not help either. It is not a question of either or, or some sort of competition, is it. One wrong, even if worse, does not excuse another, im my book.

We all know people who are swinging the system, and have been for a long time, sometimes for generations- and are very happy to sit there making excuses. I also know two women in their 40s who have forever been on unemployment, etc, benefits- and who also say they should not do 'normal' work because they are too talented and should be top dancers - but can't because of some minor health problem. It's not going to happen is it? It makes my daugthers blood boil, as they work their guts out to pay for them and others in the same position.

Mishap Fri 27-Feb-15 15:18:31

These programmes are of course very selective and pick those claimants who are likely to evoke a response. I did not see the programme, but I guess there were not many people on it with a genuine problem and working hard to find a job; although a lady with LD has been mentioned above.

I spent a lot of my career working with those who desperately needed benefits because of their genuine disabilities but were struggling with the complex system for trying to claim, and for whom life was very difficult. I did also meet the other end of the spectrum where whole families saw living on benefits as a way of life. It is very irritating, but I guess, given the choice, I would rather support a few duff claimants in order to make sure that the genuinely needy are helped - the system can never be perfect and will be abused by the few.

I can understand that watching these sorts of people must get right under the skin of those who have struggled with the system whilst playing by the rules and doing all the right things. The media can be very manipulative.

J52 Fri 27-Feb-15 16:13:09

I have asked someone ' in the know' about the fully kitted out flat. Apparently some councils will do this, using house fitting firms, a bit like you get when posted abroad.

The tenant either pays up in full, presumably with help from relatives, or 'leases' the furniture making weekly payments from their benefits!

I'm not commenting on the rights or wrongs of this system, just letting you know! x

granjura Fri 27-Feb-15 17:19:34

We had a similar arrangement with the hospital in Staffs. As they were very short of accom for staff, we were told they would furnish our home if we bought one. Nothing matched, patterned curtains with patterned carpets, teak and plastic settee and 2 chairs,etc- small formica kitchen table and stools, cheap cooker and fridge- but it got us started- we paid the princely sum of £7 a month for the privilege. At the end of the 3 year rotation contract- a van came to pick it all up- except the carpets they allowed us to keep- neighbours thought it was the bailiffs!

Deedaa Sat 28-Feb-15 21:42:46

I had a friend who used to boast about the way she was supporting her five children "herself". She used to get very annoyed when the rest of us tried to point out that in fact it was us supporting her children because, unlike her, we declared our earnings and paid income tax.

My MIL who was eventually discovered to have thousands of pounds stashed in the bank while she claimed Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit was furious when she had to pay the money back. She never appreciated the way we had managed to save her from prosecution, and till the day she died she complained bitterly about the way the Council had taken all "Her" money away. She never seemed to grasp that she couldn't claim for things if she had the money to pay, or that she was taking money that other people might desperately need. In all other ways she was a very honest, upright citizen, she just had a complete blind spot about benefits.

FlicketyB Sun 01-Mar-15 12:17:17

There is within the population a proportion who are simply unemployable. It may be because they have borderline personality problems, someone I know who is on the mild edge of autism and OCD has rarely worked despite desperately wanting to because despite help and assistance his social skills are poor and he has been sacked from a range of jobs for rudeness and being uncooperative.

For others their low mental abilities mean that while not being officially classed as learning disabled they are close to the boundary and quite simply cannot cope with the complexity of modern life or holding down a job.

I worked with elderly people giving help with benefits and other problems. Most were sensible people who for whatever reason had had hard lives and deserved every bit of help they got but I can remember one couple, who needed help because of problems with council tax payments and it soon became clear that both were incapable of managing money and their lives were a story of debt and struggle despite an adequate income and the lady concerned always complained about having to pay utility bills now she was retired. Yet ten years ago when I knew them, their joint income, as both received a range of untaxed disability benefits and income support benefits was £400 a week

When her husband died she gave him the most expensive funeral possible even though she had no money to pay for any funeral and was unlikely to ever pay the money off. She complained about the cost of that as well.

etheltbags1 Sun 01-Mar-15 12:38:38

These programmes are made to attract audiences and sensationalise the worst cases, I used to get wound up by them but I see many genuine cases of people who just cant cope with the pace of modern life and as someone else has said 'would flourish if someone would take them under their wing'.

This is the problem with modern day life , I worked in a factory and several people with borderline learning difficulties were employed, they did lowly jobs like sweeping up, or putting things into boxes and were paid a less rate than others for a simpler job, but this gave them a reason to get up in the morning and pride in working. The unions stopped all this and made everyones wages the same and gradually these people were paid off. Equality does not work for all.

As a girl we all had a 'village idiot' who would do gardening, run errands and would be paid a pittance but they were well cared for and if in hardship all would rally round donating food etc. Nowadys the welfare state has killed all this neighbourliness. It has caused jelousy and resentment even by the better off, scarcely a day goes by when someone is being slagged off for being on benefits therefore programmes like this are fodder for people like this.

Mishap Sun 01-Mar-15 14:21:45

Some good points ethel - there are no jobs for those who are not intellectually bright or have some sort of personality disorder. Benefits are all there is. You will soon need A levels to clean toilets!

I keep grinding on about how we should appreciate those who do "lowly" jobs and value their contribution. Then maybe people would not simply say that there is no point in working because they can get more in benefits - they do not see work as rewarding in itself and contributing to their self-worth.

There are benefit scroungers without a doubt, but whether they are all driven by greed and idleness or whether some are just "inadequate" and unable to function in the modern world is a question that does not seem to be under study, or the ways in which they might be helped.

petra Sun 01-Mar-15 14:33:30

Phoenix. I can tell you why you were 'targeted' I was told this by a close friend who was head honcho at our benifits office.
Many years ago when I was signing on I came home (from signing on) and happened to be seeing my friend that evening. I was furious, like you, Phoenix, I had to show all proof of job hunting and was sent to numerous interviews.
She told me it was the way I looked. I was smart, hair done, full makeup job.
She told me there were only a certain number of people they could target to keep the numbers up and I was an easy target because of the way I looked.

glammanana Sun 01-Mar-15 15:04:33

So true petra I have been told this also by DDs friend who works at our local Benefits Office and it is so so wrong as is the camera's showing the disgusting way some of these people live,would you invite camera's into your home as they do,with dirty clothes/food everywhere/dirty nappies/beds with no sheets on ? I think not,they certainly have no pride in themselves or their homes so are totally unemployable in most cases and I know who you would rather be Phoenix and it would not be one of those claimaints thats for sure.

hildajenniJ Sun 01-Mar-15 15:07:56

But there are jobs out there for those who look hard enough. When I retired from Nursing last summer, we were struggling to live on DH's earnings. (He is paid just above the national minimum wage in the Co-op). I found a cleaning job, with an agency who have the cleaning contract with Waitrose. Granted the hours are difficult if you do not have a car. I start at 04.00 and finish at 07.00 five days a week, but if I lived in the town where the store is situated I would walk! It pays almost £2.00 an hour more than DH gets at the Co-op. My nice has borderline leading disabilities but manages a job in Next so well that she is going to be mentoring a new starter next month. I didn't watch Benefits Street as I knew it would make me cross!!!

glammanana Sun 01-Mar-15 15:43:45

hildajenni When DCs where small OH worked a shift system and I went cleaning at the Local Gym from 5am-7am one week and OH left for work at 7.30am the next week when he was on lates I worked 10pm-Midnight so we managed to get through those expensive years when the mortgage rate was high and I needed to work I have never had a problem with cleaning work if I needed to do it, my finances came before pride every time.

GillT57 Sun 01-Mar-15 16:47:23

These programmes are made to irritate and enrage, but sometimes I find that I start feeling quite the opposite, and feel sympathy and some kind of pity ( horrid word) for the families concerned. I watched one such programme a couple of weeks ago where a chap in his late 30s lived with his Mother and his fiancee who was in her 60s, older than his Mother in fact. Not one of them worked, and frankly were all incapable of doing so and seemed to be totally bewildered by the world. He was discussing starting a family with his 60+ year old fiancee and said that the only reason they hadn't was because her coil had got lost shock, the fiancee had 7 children from various relationships in the past.They eventually lost their home as they hadn't been paying their rent and it angers me that this new drive to make people responsible for their own budgets is being imposed on people who really just can't cope. Their rent would previously have been paid direct to their landlord, but when the housing benefit was paid direct to the family, it got spent with no realisation of the outcome. This is why private landlords wont take on HB claimants. Even the helpful lady at CAB got exasperated by this family, they were like a load of bewildered 7 year olds playing house. I suppose years ago he would have had a job sweeping a floor somewhere, but his aspirations to be an actor, which was supposedly his reason for claiming JSA, were unlikely to be fulfilled.

Charleygirl Sun 01-Mar-15 16:55:43

I also did not watch rhe programme as it would have made my blood boil.

I have a brother in law by marriage who I think made a career choice with his wife and they had many children. I dread to think the amount of money that came into that house, paid for by us. They must be feeling the pinch now because they only have 2 who would qualify for child support. He would not recognise a day's work if it hit him in the face- he is bone idle.

The irritating thing is that he will probably receive the same amount of state pension as me when the time comes because his contributions were paid for over the years.

KatyK Sun 01-Mar-15 17:17:28

I made the mistake of watching Junk food Kids or some such title last week. Small children were either obese or having to have several teeth extracted through poor diet. One father whose small son was having to have about five teeth extracted said 'he's in a bit of pain after the extractions but I'll give him some sweets to make him feel better!' He also said 'I give my kids sweets to make them happy, as long as they are happy what's a few missing teeth?' Also this little gem 'It's the government's fault confused and the sweet shop owners fault' angry Sorry to go off subject there!