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October 17
On Benefits and proud – the demonisation of benefit claimants

As someone who has worked at the front line of benefit advice work, if you asked me to give context to the above headline for this article I could give you many stories.


I could tell you of the many carers I have met who go to extraordinary lengths to maintain their loved ones’ quality of life.  I could tell you of the many people with disabilities who use their benefits to help them overcome those disabilities and the barriers society puts in front of them, often whilst maintaining full time employment. I could tell you of previously fit and healthy people who have contracted serious illnesses and have had to deal with the bureaucracy of the welfare state whilst undergoing treatment.


All of these people, and others like them, should be proud of themselves. We as a society should also be proud that we have a system that helps others and, should it ever be needed, will help us as well.


For some reason though, many within government and the media don’t see it that way.


Channel 5 decided to run a “documentary” which sought to exploit the prejudices about benefit claimants that the media and Government have been promoting for some time now.


A small section of benefit claimants were wheeled out in front of the camera in order to make the general public furious with their statements about how they choose to be on benefits and the wonderful lifestyle they have  because of this.


This type of documentary is exploitative, cynical and does nothing to properly inform a debate about a national system that we are all likely to use at some point in our lives.


These programmes and others like it are the modern day equivalent of the stocks. The public are invited to pour scorn on the participants and to finish up with the feeling that our economic problems are the fault of people on benefits.  All that’s missing is some rotten fruit.


Recently the BBC trust ruled that a programme broadcast in October 2011 entitled The Future of the Welfare State with John Humphrys had breached the rules of the BBC on issues of impartiality and accuracy.(more details here http://www.cpag.org.uk/content/bbc-programme-welfare-reform-broke-rules)


We congratulate the Child Poverty Action group on their determination to see this complaint through.   We are also backing the CPAG campaign 'People Like Us'.  The campaign calls for the rejection of misleading stereotypes of benefit claimants and for a debate around benefits that reflects the needs of ordinary families.


If we want to live in a fair and just society we must all join the fight against the move to demonise benefit claimants. Find out more at http://www.cpag.org.uk/scotland/people-like-us?dm_i=5MH,1WT97,AUTRMA,6UW2X,1

 

  
On Benefits and proud – the demonisation of benefit claimants
Hi Steven

Like you I am a welfare rights worker and I am still waiting for a TV show to be called "On Benefits and Depressed" or "Dying but still not on Benefits", either of which would be a thousand times more representative.

As you and I know, the biggest benefit fraud going on is the one in which claimants are mis-informed OUT of their entitlement by untrained staff, or unfairly robbed of their benefit after biased interviews with ill-informed "Health Care Professionals".

My best to Enable Scotland. Keep up the good work!
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Created: 0;#2013-10-18 15:40:02

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