The Narrative: Poverty, Welfare, And Jeremy Kyle

The Narrative: Poverty, Welfare, And Jeremy Kyle

hey it's K and this is skittles my executive producer today we're gonna talk about them you know who they are and if you don't well you will an alarm pulls you from your dreams it's time for work you throw on your uniform your barrier and put something resembling breakfast in your mouth and stagger out the door still wiping the sleep from your eyes you work a full-time job if you're like most people in the West you work a thankless service-sector job you don't produce a commodity in the traditional sense rather your time and attention are the commodity it's draining in a way you leave a part of you at work every time you clock out you spend at least eight hours every day on your feet taking degradation and abuse from customers doing repetitive mind-numbing tasks and being watched like a hawk by management every single day your shift finally ends after a long commute that seems to keep getting longer you're finally home physically and emotionally exhausted you clean up make dinner and finally get to sit down on the couch you've only a few precious hours if you're lucky before you need to go to sleep to start the whole thing over again tomorrow you put on some TV to help yourself unwind something easy something entertaining you don't even have to think about as you desperately try to focus on anything other than work you turn to channel 5 there's a show on about welfare recipients shedding light on the secret lives of the unemployed Housing Benefit is obviously there to help those in genuine need to make sure they have a roof over their head but in the last year alone Housing Benefit thieves stole 290 million pounds from you and me that taxpayer unemployed unemployed what you see on the screen enrages you a man scoffs at the idea of working happily living off of taxpayer money your money you grind your soul away bit by bit every day in that shitty job so that this guy can sit around and play video games all day so this other guy can be in and out of prison shoplifting to feed his drug habit you're being fucking robbed by these scroungers and these bleeding hearts are doing nothing you understandably feel and injustice is being done to you and you're not the only one who feels this way a few years ago a poll found that 75% of people believe money is being wasted on benefits in the UK and that cuts are justified and how could they not look how benefit claimants are portrayed why would you want to give more money to people who are basically taking advantage of you you work hard all day why shouldn't these scroungers do their part however before we can address that we really need to ask where our current benefit spending is being allocated in the first place you see there's a troubling disparity between where our welfare budget is allocated and the images that come to mind when we think of people receiving benefits from the DWP Zone report in the UK two-thirds of benefit claimants are pensioners meaning only a third of claimants are even working age and among those working age claimants there are those who are found to be unfit for work receiving disability benefits beyond that there are working people on low wages who are receiving some amount of working tax credits or housing benefits towards their rent this is an instance of the government literally subsidizing the income of workers because their employers do not pay them enough to survive meaning that in this case the ones draining the welfare budget are in act employers had they paid their staff enough to make ends meet there'd be no need for the state to pay their rent only around 15% are working age benefit claimants who are expected to be searching for work in theory only these 15% are even eligible for the lofty title of scrounger unless you think pensioners and people who are disabled and unable to work are somehow pulling a fast one on you more on that in a minute yet how many programs have been created to highlight the existence of benefit sheets to focus in on this minority of benefit claimants my name is Paul Connelly I'm an investigative journalist and I specialize in working undercover exposing the crooks chancers and con artists who operate in Britain right under our noses tonight I pose as a criminal on benefits and go undercover scamming for all I'm worth you understand there are many people on benefits who genuinely need the support and you're proud to be part of a nation who looks after its people when they fall on hard times just look at Saints and scrounges one of the things that makes this country great is that whenever we find someone in genuine need we help them in a much-needed hand up when times are tough we keep people in their own homes and really help them but then whenever there's cash on offer you'll always find someone who wants to steal it their lifestyle didn't mimic people who are living wage but those who cheat the system often get what's coming to them they thought they were being clever but of course we know what we're people this is the world of saints and scrounges there's people out there who deserve financial support those who are truly in need it's the others the scroungers the dishonest who ruin it for everyone people like him and her and her and him conveniently absent from this argument is the fact that benefit cuts would hurt the honest and dishonest alike and that a small minority of fraudulent claimants within the already small minority of 15% of benefit claimants has to be a very insignificant number of people why all this ire while this attention for such a small number of people who might be getting 60 odd quid a week that they shouldn't be the thing is despite what they might say a survey of 2013 by Ipsos MORI suggested people believed that 24 pounds out of every hundred pounds spent on benefits was fraudulently claimed while people are quick to suggest it's just a few bad apples forcing their hand to support benefit cuts many people believe nearly a quarter of the money spent on benefits in the UK is the product of fraud that is an incredible claim to make but it's not a surprising one when you take a look at some of the show major networks are airing according to the Department of Work and Pensions itself as of their 2016 to 17 fraud and error report benefit fraud does not account for 24% of benefits paid out but rather wait for it a 1.2 percent that's about two billion pounds which sounds like a huge amount of money and it is but in the grand scale of the national budget and the amount lost to fraud every year it's not very much at all it's also worth noting that the DWP underpaid claimants 1.7 billion in the same period meaning they failed to pay people who were entitled to money almost as much as they overpaid benefits two fraudulent claimants the report also notes that they were able to recover 1.1 billion in overpayments but they don't specify how much of that is reclaimed from errors and how much is reclaimed from fraud so it's entirely possible they underpaid an equal or larger sum than what was overpaid due to fraud benefits fraud is actually the second smallest cost to the UK government of all types of fraud beaten only by identity fraud what's the most costly kind of fraud oh I think you already know estimates vary wildly especially due to tax evasion being considered fraud while tax avoidance which is perfectly legal and includes anything from deducting business expenses to using a tax haven is not considered fraud unpaid taxes cost the UK anywhere from 16 billion to well over 40 billion a year depending how you work it out I'm not gonna bore you by getting into tax code right now but I welcome you to look into this for yourself either way tax dodgers cost the UK government much more than benefit fraud ever could so with benefit fraud being in reality quite uncommon if you want to keep filling time slots with TV shows about scroungers then you could massively expand your reach by simply posing an innocent harmless question what if some of the recipients who we think are perfectly legitimately receiving their benefits are fooling us perhaps amongst the 3.7 million claimants of disability benefits what if they're fakers a woman who claimed to have breathing problems caught on camera winning a karate tournament a man who claimed he couldn't walk filmed using heavy machinery in his garden every day you see stories of people taking advantage of our good nature Department of Work and Pensions The Daily Mail and the Sun never fail to shine the bright light of journalism on these swindlers fakers Liars they Sully the name of the good and deserving benefit claimants who we must protect we need to investigate everyone no more money for Liars no more money for con men and thieves but what can you do how can you prevent this injustice from continuing what you need is a call to action a campaign to get people to report changes circumstances because we know that's the biggest cause of benefit fraud people starting work and failing to declare the work also you know people law parents came in benefits and their partner moves in with them and they fail to tell us that but mainly we want to test what works how can we get people to notify us of benefit fraud perfect obligations and responsibilities go together and that's the basis of our welfare reforms fairness at their heart fairness fairness a defining characteristic of Ian Duncan Smith's welfare reforms has been increasing the scrutiny on disabled claimants and this has been carried forward by successive Tory governments you can see this in shows like benefit Street where people like fungi who claim disability benefits are portrayed as simply not trying to get better white D who is featured heavily in the show even comments that fungi just doesn't have the will to get better and suggests his drug use is his real problem rather than any disability take pity on him it's as if he sort of lost the will to sort of help himself and sometimes some people just need that kick up the backside you know I mean in the very same scene it's noted that fungi cannot read or write how many jobs can you think of that don't require at least a certain base level of literacy the kind of support an addict who cannot read or write would need to integrate into the workforce would be enormous and frankly just isn't being made available to many people white D has said that the editing of the show misconstrues a lot of what she says but whether it was her intent or not benefit Street paints a picture of a man who needs incredible support to no longer be reliant on disability benefits and then tells you it's his own fucking fault the result of this approach to disability benefits is the construction of the public opinion that people's disability is always up for debate that perhaps disabled people just aren't trying hard enough that disabled benefit claimants are automatically suspicious that among them everyone is a potential criminal everyone must be investigated everyone is guilty until proven innocent and even then can we ever be sure the Conservative Party and the Department of Work and Pensions with the assistance of the media created this narrative this environment of suspicion and proceeded to turn the people against each other their call for people to report benefit fraud resulted in hundreds of thousands of completely unsubstantiated claims which the DWP had to invest resources into investigating since we're also concerned about Miss spending government money information obtained by the independent through freedom of information laws reveals that over the financial years twenty fifteen to sixteen and twenty sixteen to seventeen three hundred thirty two thousand eight hundred and fifty cases were closed following reports by members of the public of these two hundred eighty seven thousand nine hundred and fifty were found to have no or little evidence to substantiate the claim or eighty seven percent oh and while we were spying on our neighbors the Tories were cutting those benefits that hundreds of thousands of us so heroically took to defending the integrity of you change the channel Jeremy Kyle is on these same people council estate lifers benefits sponges the people robbing you because they just can't be bothered contributing to society they're tearing each other apart and they deserve it look at them she's sleeping with his brother he's lying about cheating all this proves it they're morally reprehensible they really are in poverty because they are bad people they're bad people and you're a good person you take a peculiar pleasure in their suffering as you watch their relationships deteriorate on-screen to obeying crowd hungry for blood they deserve this they all deserve this but the thing is when you're in that crowd calling for blood sometimes you get it now ITV's Jeremy Kyle show is facing its own crisis after news that one guest had been found dead a week after appearing on the show in an episode that won't ever air Stephen diamond appeared on Jeremy Kyle seeking to prove that he had not cheated on his partner whether that's true or not he took a polygraph test which he apparently failed it should be noted that polygraphs are not considered a very reliable way to determine whether someone is lying and many courts do not accept them as permissible evidence it's reported that the crowd turned on Steven after this point and in the days following the episode Steven took his own life the episode never aired and the show has been suspended there is suspicion that Steven is not the first person to become suicidal following an appearance on the show and unfortunately this goes far beyond this one program an analysis of NHS statistics published by disability news service in 2017 found that between 2007 and 2014 the number of people claiming the main out-of-work disability benefit in the UK ESA who attempted suicide had doubled over 43% of claimants had attempted to take their own lives that's what happens when you put a population in a panopticon a place of constant and uncertain surveillance a place where your every action is scrutinized where doubt is cast on every aspect of your existence all of this for what 60 70 quid a week is it worth stopping a handful of dishonest people from receiving a pittance of state welfare they don't technically qualify for if it means stripping millions of people of their humanity if it creates a culture of suspicion if it means neighbors reporting on neighbors the unemployed are a fact of our economic model capitalism creates and in fact requires a pool of unemployed people to draw from in times that excess labor is needed and to keep on the periphery to counterbalance the bargaining power of workers in employment these people are referred to as the reserve army of labour Mexi has a great video on the reserve army of labour if you want to learn more about that but to put it very briefly full employment is neither achievable nor desirable to the capitalist system this would lead to labor shortages in of excess production it would actually be a negative thing for the economy it would massively increase the leverage that workers have in relation to their employers and much of our economic growth is reliant on the amount of value we can extract from the labor of those workers we start to see how this would not be an attractive outcome for capitalist nations and some might call this a major limitation to the capitalist model itself so if unemployment is a necessary part of our economy and our economy basically guarantees a certain pool of people will be unemployed Wiedeman eyes them white are everyone on benefits as some kind of lazy grifter when there is no version of this system that doesn't have a segment of the population in unemployment well on a cultural level our bosses stand to gain quite a lot from the belief that work makes you morally good that you are a better person for it above the unproductive leeches you see on the TV because that morally fulfilling act you partake in every day it makes your boss a lot of money it's convenient that it just so happens to be the right thing to do isn't it and luckily for them if you ever decide to do something morally bad like advocate for better work conditions or higher pay well maybe your boss pulls one of those leeches out of the muck and gives them a chance to be morally good instead of you and looking to the market quite frankly this narrative sells benefits street launch to be greeted by 4.3 million viewers Jeremy Kyle the show was incredibly popular and Jeremy Kyle the man is a millionaire today people watch these shows they're good for business and the function of any business is first and foremost to generate profit it doesn't really care if it spreads a harmful message so long as that doesn't turn into bad PR having seen these arguments laid out it might seem confusing to you how successful this narrative has been but remember for most people they didn't see this show they saw this show let's turn that off look narratives are being pushed on us everyday narratives about history about government about the poor and the rich even narratives about ourselves it's no coincidence so many of these programs demonizing benefit claimants can be found in the era of austerity and welfare cuts I like to think most of us are out here trying to be good people or at least minimize the harm we do to others even if we have wildly different ideas about how to go about that so if that is your goal you need to first ask yourself who or what is playing me right now you you

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12 thoughts on “The Narrative: Poverty, Welfare, And Jeremy Kyle

  1. "This idealogy of voluntarism obscures the fundamental destruction of rights. It's not an accident that poverty grows deeper as our charitable responses to it multiply. The growth of kindness and the decline of justice are intimately intertwined."- Janet Poppendieck

  2. I'd probably be better able to work a demanding job or full time at all if childhood economic insecurity (among other things) hadn't made my body sh*t at coping with stress.

  3. FREEEEELOADS!!!!!! shakes fist at the sky and ignoring all other government waste that could help a lot of people.

  4. Thank you Kay + Skittles! I work for a small local charity in the south and we see so many people effected by these horrible austerity cuts who will never be able to work. Food bank usage has soared and there are more and more homeless ever year. It's killing them and it's important to see how the media warped public perception to allow this to happen.

  5. What I say to working class people getting an unfair benefit: hell yeah, you get yours. We have to work to make sure we are all given according to our need

  6. All this stuff with people finding videos that prove that they’re faking their disability. Disability isn’t an all-or-nothing game. Just because disabled people are capable of doing something doesn’t mean that they don’t legitimately need help.
    Honestly, I got so nervous bring my white cane in public because of this misconception, because I worry people will se me on my phone and assume I’m "faking" my blindness. Just because I can read doesn’t mean that I don’t have vision loss.

  7. The people on benefits fulfil an important function in capitalism. Their existence disciplines the working class.

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