Benefits Britain and the Rise of Poverty Porn

This is the ever-excellent Scriptonite Daily’s critique of yet another ‘poverty porn’ programme, ‘Benefits Britain’, broadcast on Channel 4 last night. I’ve already blogged about the way the genre misrepresents the unemployed and benefit claimants as idle scroungers. This was very much the case in the Beeb’s ‘Nick and Margaret: We All Pay Your Benefits’. The Oprichnik Rising blog heavily criticised that one, as Mr Oprichnik actually knew one of the claimants on the programme. This chap was very definitely not as he was presented by the programmes producers. I have to say I really am not surprised that modern benefit claimants would find the 1948 system hard. It was. Society was much harder in those days, and it was realised by social workers such as Audrey Harvey in the 1950s and Brian Abel-Smith and Peter Townsend of the LSE in the 1960s, for example, that poverty had not been eliminated and the system needed to be reformed and expanded. This, however, seems to have been deliberately excluded from the above programme, in favour of showing the unemployed poor that they’ve ‘never had it so good’. It’s effectively more Tory propaganda, this time brought to you by a formerly alternative channel.

Scriptonite Daily

BF1

Last night, Channel 4 engaged in yet more Poverty Porn, with the pseudo-reality programme Benefits Britain.  The programme followed several 2013 social security claimants as they were put through the 1949 welfare system. As with the other Poverty Porn Programming, the social security system was portrayed as costly, over generous and prone to abuse – and those reliant upon it as feckless and entitled.  It is time to bust the myths of Poverty Porn, and demand better from our media.

The UK in 1949

 BF2

The UK of 1949 might as well be a different planet.  The public had voted out the Conservatives and the country was represented by the Labour government of Clement Attlee.  Confectionary such as sweets and chocolate were rationed.  The gas industry was nationalised in the May.  George Orwell’s book Nineteen Eighty Four was published in June. The world’s first passenger jet made…

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