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'Poverty Porn' In The UK Media Watch

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    The list of 'Poverty Porn' scaremongering shows on UK television in recent weeks has been long and pretty damn sad. Channel 4 (and I expected better from them) have brought us 'Skint', 'Benefit Busters', 'How to Get a Council House' and 'Benefits Britain'. The BBC even chipped in with the dehumanising and painfully patronising, 'We All Pay Your Benefits'. This list is not even exhaustive, just some of the lowlights.


    All of these shows, intentionally or otherwise, feed into a myth that the UK is some sort of paradise for benefit cheats and so-called 'scroungers'.


    In reality, benefit fraud is just 0.7% of all claims – this means 'Benefits Britain', to be statistically accurate, would have needed to follow the lives of 100 claimants to show just one who was cheating the system.


    In these shows, most, if not all of a handful of claimants are portrayed as milking it and living in some sort of ill-entitled luxury - and the saddest part of it all is how the British public seem to eat it up like chocolate.


    The total cost of benefit fraud is £1.2bn a year – this is less than half what administrative errors cost the DWP each year - and nowhere near what corporate tax dodging costs us. Current British media spend so much time promoting the idea that the poor have never had it so good - but almost no airtime is devoted to revealing the decreasing contributions from the wealthiest.

    To me, I see it clear to be scapegoating aimed at distracting the public away from the government's continual failings.
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    (Original post by NorthCountryMod)
    To me, I see it clear to be scapegoating aimed at distracting the public away from the government's continual failings.
    Nailed it. You wouldn't believe how many idiots actually believe it as well. Gotta fight the benefits scrounger boogeyman! Nevermind the fact that we're being short-changed by people far more important and powerful than the odd benefit scrounger.

    Not to say these people don't exist and aren't despicable. There are also many gaping holes in the benefits system. I'm sure most people know that one person who fiddled with Student Finance somehow and got more money than they know what to do with at uni, for example. I've also seen quite a few threads on here, correct or otherwise, where people are aware/suspicious of fraud in other areas of the system. But as I said these people are nowhere as common as they like to make out.

    It serves the people in power well to remind people how "lucky" they are to *not* be these horrible, disgusting degenerates on the telly.
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    I've worked with and know many many benefit claimants, none of whom fit the bill of 'benefit scroungers'. The way people look and judge a lot of these peoples is criminal and I don't think the media helps. A lot of people I know unfortunately still cling on to these misconceptions despite being shown evidence otherwise.

    All I have to say OP is that this is a brave thread to post and will no doubt give rise to a lot of good debate and I do believe the media should ideally try to dispel misconceptions (which I'm sure these shows do try to...kind of aim to do in a round about way) and state facts but when were the media ever known for those qualities.

    The worst are papers like the Dailymail that habitually see it as their role to post an article every month or so with a benefits family talking about their TVs and how they want a bigger house and more benefits. Those people are also to blame as they parade their apparent abuse of the system and papers grab on to it happily portraying that as the stereotype of benefit claimants.
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    It's funny (although I'm sure it won't be when most of us eventually end up there) that so much hatred is targeted towards JSA claimants as well. Correct me if I'm wrong but the vast majority of benefit expenditure comes from the traditional "deserving poor" like the elderly and the disabled. It's staggering how much resentment there is towards £55 a week or whatever it is. I don't get it? Some kind of inner need for people to prove themselves? Contrast themselves against 'the other', the horrible benefit scroungers? Pure lack of understanding? I didn't realise so many people had their lives worked out for them and were immune to ending up on the dole and end up resenting the people on these programmes. Maybe that's just my experience.
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    How to Get a Council House didn't portray any of the people as scroungers or milking the system - it showed people who genuinely needed housing.
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    (Original post by NorthCountryMod)
    The list of 'Poverty Porn' scaremongering shows on UK television in recent weeks has been long and pretty damn sad. Channel 4 (and I expected better from them) have brought us 'Skint', 'Benefit Busters', 'How to Get a Council House' and 'Benefits Britain'. The BBC even chipped in with the dehumanising and painfully patronising, 'We All Pay Your Benefits'. This list is not even exhaustive, just some of the lowlights.


    All of these shows, intentionally or otherwise, feed into a myth that the UK is some sort of paradise for benefit cheats and so-called 'scroungers'.


    In reality, identified and prosecuted benefit fraud is just 0.7% of all claims and doesn't take into account those who know how to play the system – this means 'Benefits Britain', to be statistically accurate, would have needed to follow the lives of 100 claimants to show just one who was cheating the system.


    In these shows, most, if not all of a handful of claimants are portrayed as milking it and living in some sort of ill-entitled luxury - and the saddest part of it all is how the British public seem to eat it up like chocolate.


    The total cost of benefit fraud is £1.2bn a year – this is less than half what administrative errors cost the DWP each year - and nowhere near what corporate tax dodging costs us. Current British media spend so much time promoting the idea that the poor have never had it so good - but almost no airtime is devoted to revealing the decreasing contributions from the wealthiest.

    To me, I see it clear to be scapegoating aimed at distracting the public away from the government's continual failings.
    I've fixed your statement.

    Nobody is scapegoating anybody. People are seriously questioning how we have a system that pays equal, f not more to people not working whilst those who work seem to loose out.

    A friend of mine has just stopped working to look after his daughter.(It's not a straight forward case) From going to a fully paid job to sitting at home on benefits, he is the grand total of only £30 a week worse off. Even he finds this a crazy situation. She goes off to school, and he sits at home at taxpayers expense.


    EDIT. The woman in this Channel 4 programee Benefits Britain 1949 shows all that is unholy and wrong with our current benefits system.

    http://www.channel4.com/programmes/b...itain-1949/4od
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    (Original post by PythianLegume)
    How to Get a Council House didn't portray any of the people as scroungers or milking the system - it showed people who genuinely needed housing.

    I didn't see it but you have to admit the title of the show is provocative.
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    (Original post by MatureStudent36)
    A friend of mine has just stopped working to look after his daughter.(It's not a straight forward case) From going to a fully paid job to sitting at home on benefits, he is the grand total of only £30 a week worse off. Even he finds this a crazy situation. She goes off to school, and he sits at home at taxpayers expense.
    That's alright - get enough Daily Mail types worked up about this and it will soon be fixed.

    In no time at all you'll have some Tory boy discussing it in parliament, Ian Duncan Smith getting his DWP minions to issue some highly misleading press releases, TSR members discussing these press snippets and concluding that people such as your friend are scroungers and then a policy announcement that your friend will have to sell his child and return to work.

    It is then likely that there will be another TSR thread where people will say that this policy is fair since the UK is short of cash and it is people like your friend who need to pay their fare share for once.

    OP: you are absolutely right. The makers of these shows should be ashamed. Very often, being a recipient of welfare is not a pleasant experience. Most people are in the situation through no fault of their own. The tv shows only serve to mislead the public who are already subject to countless misleading newspaper stories backed up by the government press machine serving an administration hell bent on demonsing some of the poorest in society.
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    (Original post by InnerTemple)
    OP: you are absolutely right. The makers of these shows should be ashamed. Very often, being a recipient of welfare is not a pleasant experience. Most people are in the situation through no fault of their own. The tv shows only serve to mislead the public who are already subject to countless misleading newspaper stories backed up by the government press machine serving an administration hell bent on demonsing some of the poorest in society.
    People do agree to feature on these TV shows.
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    Your post sounds hyperbolic to me. When something is a hot topic of public debate you will often see a flurry of documentaries from the broadcasters: immigration, Islam, etc.
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    (Original post by Ripper-Roo)
    People do agree to feature on these TV shows.
    I always find that odd.

    It's like the stories you get in some of the poorer quality press about the couple on benefits who have 39 children and "plan to have more." The paper will carry an unflattering picture (I always imagine that the people who read these papers study the picture and see it as an insight as to how the 'unwashed' live..."ohh, furniture which doesn't match, tatty wall paper AND that Constable isn't even an original. How interesting!") and will also have a quote from one of the parents:

    "Tracy told our reporter: 'well, like, the money is good and me and Steve have never been keen on work. So it makes sense to just stay at home having sex all the time. We have had six holidays this year and next year we will be buying our eldest children a new car each."

    Anyway - I wonder where they find these people. How they get them to talk? In any event, it does not take away the fact that it is pretty sloppy reporting.
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    (Original post by InnerTemple)
    That's alright - get enough Daily Mail types worked up about this and it will soon be fixed.

    In no time at all you'll have some Tory boy discussing it in parliament, Ian Duncan Smith getting his DWP minions to issue some highly misleading press releases, TSR members discussing these press snippets and concluding that people such as your friend are scroungers and then a policy announcement that your friend will have to sell his child and return to work.

    It is then likely that there will be another TSR thread where people will say that this policy is fair since the UK is short of cash and it is people like your friend who need to pay their fare share for once.

    OP: you are absolutely right. The makers of these shows should be ashamed. Very often, being a recipient of welfare is not a pleasant experience. Most people are in the situation through no fault of their own. The tv shows only serve to mislead the public who are already subject to countless misleading newspaper stories backed up by the government press machine serving an administration hell bent on demonsing some of the poorest in society.
    Don't get why you've been thumbed down for this. You hit the nail right on the head.
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    (Original post by InnerTemple)
    I always find that odd.

    It's like the stories you get in some of the poorer quality press about the couple on benefits who have 39 children and "plan to have more." The paper will carry an unflattering picture (I always imagine that the people who read these papers study the picture and see it as an insight as to how the 'unwashed' live..."ohh, furniture which doesn't match, tatty wall paper AND that Constable isn't even an original. How interesting!") and will also have a quote from one of the parents:

    "Tracy told our reporter: 'well, like, the money is good and me and Steve have never been keen on work. So it makes sense to just stay at home having sex all the time. We have had six holidays this year and next year we will be buying our eldest children a new car each."

    Anyway - I wonder where they find these people. How they get them to talk? In any event, it does not take away the fact that it is pretty sloppy reporting.
    Yeah, this article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...-lost-way.html
    When we first meet Karen, star of a new Channel 4 documentary, she is driving a huge, silver Nissan people-carrier. The 54-year-old grandmother is smartly dressed in fashionable clothes, jewellery and sports an immaculate manicure

    .

    Pretty much matches the stereotype the DM loves. It seems more than just 'reporting the facts'.

    I wonder how much they're paid to reveal how they fund those '39 children' :laugh:

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    (Original post by InnerTemple)
    I always find that odd.

    It's like the stories you get in some of the poorer quality press about the couple on benefits who have 39 children and "plan to have more." The paper will carry an unflattering picture (I always imagine that the people who read these papers study the picture and see it as an insight as to how the 'unwashed' live..."ohh, furniture which doesn't match, tatty wall paper AND that Constable isn't even an original. How interesting!") and will also have a quote from one of the parents:

    "Tracy told our reporter: 'well, like, the money is good and me and Steve have never been keen on work. So it makes sense to just stay at home having sex all the time. We have had six holidays this year and next year we will be buying our eldest children a new car each."

    Anyway - I wonder where they find these people. How they get them to talk? In any event, it does not take away the fact that it is pretty sloppy reporting.

    Can I ask you a question ?
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    (Original post by Zenomorph)
    Can I ask you a question ?
    You can.
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    (Original post by Hannibal Lecter)
    Your post sounds hyperbolic to me. When something is a hot topic of public debate you will often see a flurry of documentaries from the broadcasters: immigration, Islam, etc.
    Cart before the horse. What places these issues as hot topics in the first place? I'd say a large proportion of public perception on the aforementioned issues in your post stem from how they are broadcast. Most UK media serves as a selective sheet of information to convince the public that they're cluing themselves up because their apathy is such that they do not have the time or interest to find proper sources of factual data and information.

    Nevertheless, you are correct. When something is a national 'hot topic', of course you will see more of it broadcast to the public - but that wasn't my point. My point was how it was being broadcast.

    Obviously people claiming what they are not entitled is morally deplorable. But it's the presumptuous jumps to conclusion that we like to make as a nation that bother me. We think because a few immigrants that have never worked a day are given nice houses, or someone perfectly capable of working yet decides to claim and has a big flat-screen TV and leather sofa... We then adopt that false dichotomy and apply it to our benefits system being too generous. And without looking too deeply into it, many of these claims are made by people who have/will never need to live on the breadline. Even the language that is used seems to glamourise a life on social security... 'Benefits', 'handouts', 'paid for by the taxpayer'. It's all very convincing - but what I'm saying is I don't believe that the issue is as prominent or as much of a drain as reported - and having the statistics to help support that claim - I believe the burden of proof lies with those who suggest otherwise.
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    The 0.7% figure is a misrepresentation of people's concerns. Whilst it may be true that people overestimate the number of people fraudulently claiming benefits, there is also the issue of the perception that benefit payments are higher than they ought to be.
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    (Original post by InnerTemple)
    That's alright - get enough Daily Mail types worked up about this and it will soon be fixed.

    In no time at all you'll have some Tory boy discussing it in parliament, Ian Duncan Smith getting his DWP minions to issue some highly misleading press releases, TSR members discussing these press snippets and concluding that people such as your friend are scroungers and then a policy announcement that your friend will have to sell his child and return to work.

    It is then likely that there will be another TSR thread where people will say that this policy is fair since the UK is short of cash and it is people like your friend who need to pay their fare share for once.

    OP: you are absolutely right. The makers of these shows should be ashamed. Very often, being a recipient of welfare is not a pleasant experience. Most people are in the situation through no fault of their own. The tv shows only serve to mislead the public who are already subject to countless misleading newspaper stories backed up by the government press machine serving an administration hell bent on demonsing some of the poorest in society.
    The systems wrong if that can happen. Even he acknowledges it. But if you can be paid for sitting at home for doing little more than filling a ew forms out. Why not.

    Therein lies the problem. We have a benefit system that doesn't promote work. Not a safety net. But a system that actually allows you not to work even tough your more than capable.
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    (Original post by Hopple)
    The 0.7% figure is a misrepresentation of people's concerns. Whilst it may be true that people overestimate the number of people fraudulently claiming benefits, there is also the issue of the perception that benefit payments are higher than they ought to be.
    Explain to me ow the feckless couple living next door to me are able to go out drinking most nights. Go on holiday and have a large flat screen TV.

    Are they high paid consultants who work from home? Maybe academics on sabatical?

    No. They're feckless chancers who have realised that they can get paid as much to stay at home than go out and do work.

    One day, when you're working and realising that it's your tax money that is paying for these people, then you will get as upset about as I do.
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    after david cameron there will be "porn poverty" D:
 
 
 
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