THE Channel 4 series Benefits Street is a reality TV show based on a Birmingham street where, according to the programme makers, 90% of the residents live on benefits.
It is hard to watch this programme and not feel a sense of outrage – not least at the producers, Love Productions, for pandering to prejudice. Not much love lost there. The naive residents of James Turner Street say they were told they were part of a film about community spirit.
But Benefits Street is essential viewing for anyone who wants to understand how attitudes to the welfare state have changed in Britain. It is a bit like the Ken Loach drama Cathy Come Home in reverse. That programme reflected public concern about homelessness in the 1960s when the welfare state was still seen as a great social achievement.
Sunday Herald article. Click here to read on.