October 27, 2014 : Lynn Williams

#benefitsbritain: hoping for more than another cheap shot at claimants

Hopefully tonight's Benefits Britain programme will expose the major problems around Universal Credit rather than taking another cheap shot at claimants.

Once again, the lives of people who are part of the benefits system will be featured on TV.  How sympathetic this portrayal will be remains to be seen.

I blog regularly on the impact of austerity and a whole raft of benefit cuts on families across the country.  Sadly, the perception of people “scrounging” pervades, and so my hope is that tonight’s Channel 4 programme tries to counter those myths. From the looks of the trailer I am hopeful that Dispatches intends to expose the problems around Universal Credit rather than take another cheap shot at people on benefits.

In a recent blog, I outlined the rise of poverty, and the inability of increasing numbers of families (both those in work and those without work) to meet the most basic of human needs. Children are going to bed hungry; disabled people are being vilified; over 5 million people in the UK are trapped in low paid jobs which will mean reliance on in-work benefits for many. The Conservatives want to continue a cap on increases in these benefits, while Labour want to freeze child benefit.

Our supposed savior, Universal Credit, is a ticking time bomb getting closer to explosion.

Pushing people into poverty is almost certainly a political choice, wrapped up in the not so colourful wrapper of “we’re all in it together”. When dealing with the whopping public finance deficit, some of us are clearly in it more deeply than others. Our supposed savior, Universal Credit, is a ticking time bomb getting closer to explosion.

So, as you settle down to watch tonight’s “Dispatches” programme, think about the fact that people’s lives are collateral damage in a failing economy and a fractured labour market. Consider the fact that it could so easily be you as our supposed economic recovery begins to teeter on the edge. And try to consider those portrayed with this in mind. We need a more compassionate society and a decent safety net for those of us who fall on hard times.

Important: Opinions expressed by bloggers are their own and don't represent those of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations.

by Lynn Williams