Tuesday 11 August 2015

No Benefit Britain

Rol up, roll up! Come and gawp at the poor people! Chuck 'em a bun for a penny! 

It is little wonder that people who receive State Aid are so vilified. It is expected, though still unacceptable, to see newspapers filled with horror stories about "scroungers" and "moochers". With a largely right wing controlled, and in most cases, Murdoch owned, press, the demonisation of the poor and disabled is par for the course. Lately, however, there has been an upsurge in "poverty porn", with Channel 5 leading the pack. 

Benefits: 19 Kids and Counting.
Benefit House: Me and My 26 Kids.
Great British Benefits Hotel.
Undercover Benefits Cheat.
Can't Pay: Benefits Special
On Benefits and Proud.
Gypsies on Benefits and Proud.

That's a short list of the programme line up on Channel 5. This WEEK alone. Benefits, benefits, benefits.. 

Are these programmes really necessary? What purpose do they serve, other than to further divide people? 

Let's turn, for a moment, to the Oxford English Dictionary..

BENEFIT. (n) An advantage or profit gained from something: enjoy the benefits of being a member.
BENEFIT. (n) A payment made by the state or an insurance scheme to someone entitled to receive it: part-time jobs supplemented by means-tested benefits.

Let's be very specific. There is NO advantage to receiving state aid, beyond the ability to survive. People receiving welfare do not "enjoy" the benefits of anything. Secondly, as the word has found its way into the dictionary, as a blanket term for state aid, let's look at the key word in the second definition. A payment made.. ..to someone ENTITLED to receive it. The vast majority of people on welfare are fully entitled to the money they receive. Most have paid into the system, and, for whatever reason, now rely on that insurance policy to survive. This is true of the unemployed, the underpaid, and above all, the disabled, who NEED the money to which they are ENTITLED, to survive.
Certainly, there are a minority of people who game the system. But they are precisely that. A small minority. So let's look at the figures..
Benefit fraud accounted for just 0.7 per cent of welfare spending in 2013/2014, according to government figuresMeanwhile 1.3 per cent was overpaid through error (0.9 per cent in claimant error and 0.4 per cent in official error).
Latest estimates show £3.4bn of benefit was overpaid due to claimant error, fraud or official error in 2013/14. This is 2.1 per cent of benefit expenditure.


Peter Grigg from the Who Benefits? campaign said:

“The vast majority of people who receive support from benefits claim correctly and need this support because they are seriously ill or disabled, caring for a loved one, unable to find work or in work but struggling to get by on low pay. Where fraud is found it needs to be dealt with, but it accounts for less than one per cent of the total benefit bill.”

He added:

“Yet public perception of benefit fraud is 34 times higher than the reality. Our recent research revealed that hundreds of thousands of ordinary people experience discrimination and even verbal and physical abuse simply because they are supported by benefits.”

According to DWP statistics from February 2014, there were 5.3 million people on working age benefits. Research carried out by the Who Benefits? campaign found that 15 per cent of those receiving benefits had experienced verbal abuse because they are getting support, while 4 per cent reported that they had been physically abused.

And a total of 16 per cent said a landlord or letting agent had refused to let them a property and 18 per cent said they’d been treated less favourably by a potential employer or had difficulty accessing a bank account or financial services because they were claiming benefits.

Enter Channel 5, with its over abundance of benefits related programming. Thinly disguised as "documentaries", these programmes find selective groups of claimants, and present them as the status quo amongst welfare recipients. Channel 4 has been little better, with programmes such as Benefits Street, however Five remains the worst offender, by far. These programmes serve absolutely no purpose, other than to support Government propaganda that "scroungers" are all around us, when the reality is under ONE percent of claims are fraudulent. They neither inform or educate; the very purpose of documentary television. Neither do they entertain, unless you happen to derive a perverse pleasure from watching people less fortunate that you, struggling to make ends meet.

Poverty porn makes people angry. Hell, they make ME angry, but for very different reasons. Whilst others are angry at the hoardes of scroungers clamerbing their way to the DWP to grab whatever they can get, they make ME angry for encouraging people to believe that the statement I've just described is a factual one, rather than a media driven campaign to fuel hatred toward the most vulnerable people in our society. 

People on welfare, especially the disabled, are frightened. Terrified of losing the meagre pittance they receive, due to the draconian austerity measures implemented by the Conservative government. The weakest members of society are already being hit harder than any other societal group. Compounding this with divisive nonsense spewed out by the media is the LAST thing they need. 

Channel Five seldom show programmes depicting the impact of austerity cuts on the disabled. Doing so might make people CARE, and we simply can't have that, can we? No.. It's much better to find the minority, present them as the majority, and let division run rampant. These "documentaries" are harmful, irresponsible garbage, which serve no purpose whatsoever, beyond inflaming tensions. Please, do the responsible thing, and don't add to their viewing figures. If people refuse to watch this crap, eventually, with a little luck, television channels will return to responsible, fact based journalism, and not bandwagon jumping, incendiary divisive bullshit.

There is no "benefit" to being poor. There is no "reward" for being disabled. And there is certainly no justification for presenting a handful of rogue claimants as the majority. Channel Fice should be ashamed at the rubbish they show. And people who watch, and buy into the narrative, should be equally ashamed. The people who SHOULDN'T be ashamed, or shamed by our national media, are those who are receiving the aid to which they are rightfully entitled.

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