Anyone who tuned in to ‘Benefit Street’ on Channel Four on Monday would have immediately backed recently announced plans to slash billions off the welfare budget in the next Parliament.
The programme, which featured lager-swilling layabouts augmenting their state handouts with regular shoplifting trips, did as much for the image of those forced to eke out a living on benefits as ‘The Scheme’ did for the good people of Scotland.
The street’s mother figure – White Dee – seemed to spend most of her time sitting on her doorstep smoking while others spoke candidly about being caught fiddling their benefits, selling stolen jackets for £200 and a cannabis farm in the room of an upstairs flat, while also musing over whether they could snatch the sat nav from an Asda van while the driver was delivering to a nearby house.
Entertaining telly I’m sure but all it will do is serve to reinforce the view many people already have about the unemployed.
Upstanding members of our community suffering during the recession but exploring every avenue to find work to support their family may not make good television, but it’s a lot closer to the truth on many occasions.