Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Benefits Britain

It must be quite obvious that I don't have much of a life at the moment, seeing as all I write about is telly. Apologies. Here we go again.

In recent months, the UK benefits system has been in the media spotlight arguably more than it ever has been. Much of this has to do with prime-time television programmes about people on benefits such as Skint (Channel 4) and We All Pay Your Benefits (BBC One).

When talking about things like benefits and the class system, I always think it's important to talk about your own experience of benefits and wealth, because our opinions on these things often stem from our own background and experiences. Margaret Mountford and the BBC obviously disagree with me here, but fuck 'em.

Firstly: I don't know as much about politics as some people do. However, I do like to think I'm reasonably balanced in my opinions. I've been on this planet for 20 years, 8 months and 25 days. I live in a small town on the outskirts of Leeds. We were going to move to Wakefield until our house came onto the market, and we moved into this house because it was the cheapest house in the area. I've never lived in another house. My Dad is from Tinsley in Sheffield and my Mum is from Wetherby. The rest of my family are from inner-city Sheffield and inner-city Newcastle. Neither of my parents went to University; my Dad trained to be an electrician and worked in factories in Sheffield and my Mum went to art college to do textiles. When I was young, we didn't have very much money, and now we're relatively well-off because my Dad set up his own company in 2004 and after a few years and a shitload of hard work it started doing quite well. We used to have a Fiesta that leaked rain on to your head and now we've got two nice cars and a very dented 7 year old VW Golf (you'll never guess which is mine...)

I've never been on benefits and neither have my parents. I consider myself extremely lucky. Where I live, there are a lot of people who are on benefits and there are a lot of people who are quite rich. I've got friends in both of these categories. Some of my friends eat steak twice a week and some of my friends fill their cupboards with Tesco Economy custard creams. I love them all equally because they're all fantastic, wonderful people. Anyway, I'm getting further and further from the point.

The people that I know who are on benefits aren't reflected in programmes like Skint and We All Pay Your Benefits. We don't see the people who work their backsides off night and day to try and make ends meet but still can't due to disgustingly poor wages. We don't see the single mothers with disabled children who rely on the extra support from the benefits system in order to provide the care that their child needs. We don't see the people who work 12 hours a day in Subway and earn £2.60 an hour because they're classed as an 'apprentice sandwich artist'. What we see is the minority of fuckwits who can't be arsed to work, but they are portrayed as the majority when they are far, far from it.

It's easy to attack the poor because they can't defend themselves. They can't bring in big solicitors and attack the media. The poor are the only people who are truly affected by the government; the rich can feed their family under any government, but the poor can't.

What I find most bizarre about these TV programmes is some of the people that watch them. I can understand that it must be frustrating to see that a person on benefits has more money than you do when you work either full or part time, but some people actually want to see these people have absolutely nothing. These tend to be the people that live a comfortable life and have never experienced being on benefits. They sit in their comfortable arm chair with the heating on, pointing at the telly with their fork shouting "Look at this woman here! She's got a telly and a dog and a sofa has this fucking scrounger!"

What if she had that dog before she was unemployed and relied on benefits? What if she put away three pounds a week for four years in order to buy that telly?

People want to watch people suffering. It's exactly the same as the shit auditions on The X Factor; people like to watch others fail because it makes them feel that tiny bit better about their own shitty little lives. This isn't an X Factor audition though; this is real life and people need the welfare state in order to be alive. If you're really that against the benefits system, go out and meet real people on benefits and then make your decision. Don't get brainwashed by crappy propaganda television.

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